Kathy Plomin- 2020 General Election Questionnaire
Running for: 12th District Council
Campaign Website: https://www.plominforcouncil.com/
1. What do you see as the single most important issue facing your district, and what is your plan to address it?
Growth. The 12th District makes up 73% of the land mass in Fayette County. There is ongoing pressure to expand Urban Service Boundary that was established in 1958 to contain urban sprawl and protect the rural area, home to our world known horse farms, farmland and natural resources. Since that time the boundary has been expanded several times, the last being in 1996, with the addition of 5400 acres, including the Hamburg area. The most recent 2018 Comprehensive Plan did not include any expansion
I currently serve on the Infill and Redevelopment Committee and we are looking at various ways to accommodate more growth within the USB. Most recently Council approved a Floor Area Ratio, a Zone Ordinance Text Amendment that will increase density in multi-family housing in specific zones, providing more opportunities for expanded housing opportunities and increased affordable housing within the USB. We must continue to look at creative and strategic ways to grow within the USB.
2. Given your understanding of Lexington’s long and complicated history around racial injustices, what do you plan to do to directly address inequality and its root causes in our city?
The Mayor recently established a Commission on Racial Disparity on which I served. The Commission will be presenting their work in mid-October. There will be action steps and a timetable, not more “talk”There needs to be more “voice” from black and hispanic community members at decision making levels. In addition our community needs to be educated on these disparities and our role in correcting them.
3. In recent years Lexington’s budget obligations have outpaced its ability to generate revenue. In the FY 20/21 budget, this has dramatically impacted everything from economic development to social services. What strategies do you recommend to address revenue shortages while balancing spending priorities?
This is a challenge. In 2020 we have faced unprecedented circumstances that have resulted in a 30 million budget shortfall. We have received one time Federal funding and made internal cuts that we can’t count on moving forward. Our annual revenue has four sources predominated by payroll tax, others include net profit taxes from our businesses, insurance and franchise fees.We need to be looking at these areas as considerations for revenue growth.
4. Lexington’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan encourages infill and redevelopment as Lexington’s main growth strategy. What specific implementation aspects of the Comprehensive Plan are working and what challenges need to be addressed?
Aspects working in the Comp Plan include a more aggressive and creative approach to infill and redevelopment (example FAR-ZOTA)land swap with UK resulting in increasing land within USB. Challenges include pressure from developers, builders and real estate agents (we are currently looking at exactions fees that will offer developers a less expensive approach for development within the USB).
5. Lexington faces challenges across districts with regard to housing affordability, diversity and accessibility. What is the City’s role in addressing affordable housing and how would you recommend prioritizing policy change to address these challenges?
We desperately need more affordable housing. It is a matter of supply and demand The FAR zota will help, gentrification needs to be addressed. A few ideas we could look at are better tax incentives for builders, increasing our affordable Trust Fund, transform vacant buildings and land (we have plenty) into affordable units, faith based organizations involvement, more strategic transportation, relax zoning and developing rules.
6. The impact of COVID-19 on local businesses and non-profits will be significant and long lasting. What will you do as a council member to support their recovery and foster their resilience?
I am a strong advocate for the city’s support of our non-profits. The city can’t afford to provide these services on our own. Local businesses also need our financial support which we recently provided through two of our restricted funds. As mentioned, we must look at our four revenue sources to provide this critical support. There are not any other meaningful alternatives and it is inevitable.
7. In recent months, much of our country’s attention has been directed to issues of systemic racism, specifically as it applies to policing and the justice system. What measures would you support to ensure that Lexington’s policing and justice system is equitable?
I believe we must first look at our training programs for our incoming recruits. If our police are taught responses to certain acts of crime and use that trained response, they are doing what they have been taught and they perceive that action acceptable. I support a citizens advisory board and full disclosure to the council. Collective bargaining needs to be more open and communicated. I respect and support our police but there is always room for improvement for any public organization.
8. Revenue shortfalls have made it difficult for the city to continue supporting external social resource agencies at a time when they are needed most. What specific city-level policies do you support to ensure that every resident has access to a basic quality of life?
As previously stated I believe our city must support these agencies. Financial support is imperative and our ESR program provides due diligence and should be continued as accessing and funding our community needs. 211 is an excellent resource to provide access to our citizens and could be better integrated and marketed in our city’s outreach.
9. Lexington’s tax revenue base is dependent on a thriving and sustainable local economy. What are your top three priorities for helping the city promote and support economic development?
Increase our recruitment of more tech companies to Lexington, especially equine related. Higher pay and smaller space needs. More regional approach to recruitment of business’s relocation to area. More competitive relocation incentives
10. LFUCG Council will soon have the responsibility of council redistricting. What is your approach to including public participation in the redistricting process?
Of course the census plays a pivotal role in the redistricting process. So public participation in the Census intake is essential and this year’s pandemic restrictions will have an impact. Perhaps a district focus group would be helpful but the Census and each Councilmember would provide a strong perspective on the needs if redistricting the county
11. The agricultural sector has a $2.3B economic impact on FayetteCounty, accounting for over $8.5M of the city’s payroll revenue. It is poised to grow with the support of Mayor Gorton’s Administration for making Fayette County a center for ag-tech. As a councilmember, what are your priorities for the agriculture and food system economy?
The 12th District is home to our farmland and it is a priority for me. I am an ongoing vocal advocate of our farmland and its economic impact within our county. I applaud the Mayor’s commitment to our ag sector. We have one the country’s most respected Ag schools in the country and we must work closely with the University’s College of Agricultural to recruit and retain ag-tech companies to our city and county. Also aggressive outreach and marketing of our local foods programs is vital to goal.
12. Well-planned infrastructure strengthens communities, boosts local economies, expands opportunity, and promotes equitable development. What policies would you support to achieve a more accessible, efficient, and sustainable transportation system in Lexington and the Bluegrass region?
Our local transportation system specifically Lextran, still a stigma within the community. Our buses are primarily used by our lower income population while most community members drive their own vehicles with very little ride-sharing. Lextran has offered creative programs with UK and a few others. Perhaps this option could be expanded. I would like to see a regional transportation option (Louisville/Cincinnati) Also perhaps a direct route to Fayette Mall/Hamburg area. No money for light rail
13. Lexington has temporarily suspended public comment in all public Zoom meetings. Meaningful public participation is vital to a responsive local government, and COVID-19 has created a new set of challenges in that regard. What strategies would you support to make ongoing public participation accessible for all?
We tried live public comment and it was abused. We do not have a system for a delayed response. We have looked at a few options such as sending in a written comment via email, voice message or recorded video for public comment. It is a frustrating situation Hopefully we will be back in the Chambers with public comment in the near future. We are looking at a hybrid approach having some councilmembers in Chamber and some on Zoom which could accommodate public comment back in Chambers in person