Lexington’s city council got a more thorough explanation of Mayor Jim Gray’s budget funding rationale during a workshop Tuesday at city hall.
Gray is not suggesting hiring any additional police officers. An earlier proposal had the city employing about 30 more officers a year for the next few years to establish a fourth police sector. Council Member James Brown says city leaders are not backing away from that goal. “I think we’re all still in support of the fourth police sector here in Lexington. It’s just with the new chief and those rising costs we’re going to see if there’s a way that we can try to make that happen without increasing the manpower on our police department right now” said Brown
Brown says the city is coping with rising personnel costs. City leaders are also facing increased pension costs. The mayor unveiled his recommendations for a $370 million one year spending plan last week.
The mayor’s budget speech last week came in the midst of his primary race for a seat in Congress. It’s not the first time this has happened. Gray made an unsuccessful run for U.S. senate two years ago. Lexington Vice Mayor Steve Kay says political races should not interfere with budget consideration. “The administration is stable. The Council is stable. We’re not going anywhere. For council, with one exception I think, most council members don’t have primaries, so they’re not distracted at all by that. I don’t think it makes much difference,” noted Kay.
While the May Primary won’t see a lot of Lexington council races, that’s not the case in November. Kay says all but one seat on the council includes competition in the fall election.