LFUCG 2020-2021 Budget
Mayor Gorton’s budget address was much different than years past, as the city is currently facing a $40M projected revenue shortfall. A significant shortfall (approximately $9M) was already expected, but exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19 on our entire community, and specifically, our businesses, from which comes the majority of city revenue. Cuts were made across all sectors, a hiring freeze was put into place, and the majority of the funds to cover the shortfall have been pulled from the city’s Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF), some of which will be restored by federal CARES Act funding which Lexington was recently made eligible for, and which should be received later this year. This was an incredibly difficult budget year, and will be in years to come. The highlights of the proposed and amended FY21 budget are below:
- The Affordable Housing Trust Fund was restored to full funding in the amount of $2M (originally proposed was partial funding to complete 1 affordable housing project, restored funding ensures the re-hiring of an Affordable Housing Manager and at least 2 affordable housing projects);
- The Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program was partially funded in the amount of $212,000 to support existing easements and active recruitment of easements currently in the pipeline;
- Full funding in the amount of $2.1M was restored to External Social Resource agencies (ESR) by the Council (original proposed budget did not include it);
- Funds were added to the budget by the Council to hire a Director of Revenue;
- Funds to outside agencies for Economic Development have been cut in half (from over $600K to approximately $300k) and the process of fund disbursement will be changing from individual grants to external agencies to a request for proposal process. Direct funding to agencies such as Commerce Lexington and the DLP has been eliminated.
- Council created a $2.5M local business stimulus program, 50% of which will be reserved for minority and women-owned businesses. The new program will be reviewed quarterly by the Council.
Mayor Gorton and the Council had difficult decisions to make, and we commend Mayor Gorton’s determination to continue existing operations as much as possible, while prioritizing the most pressing needs of our community. Avoiding bankruptcy, a reality many cities of our size across the country were facing, was a top priority.
Affordable housing is needed now more than ever, and the Council restoring that funding was key to additional efforts. While PDR is once again not fully funded, we acknowledge the key fact that allocated funding will allow it to continue its momentum. The economic engine of our farmland and agricultural industry is emphasized and understood by Mayor Gorton and we will advocate that this temporary funding not set precedent and for restoration of full funding in FY22. We will continue to monitor economic development efforts throughout this new RFP process, as our payroll revenue moving forward will dictate our budget shortfall in the coming years and the success of our local businesses, and recruitment of new jobs, will be essential in our success.
We will continue working together as a community to keep Lexington extraordinary, even in these most challenging times. If you’d like to get a deeper look at the FY21 Budget, we recommend you look to a budget guide created by CivicLex, and which can be found here: https://civiclex.org/budget-guide.