Lexington council will consider overriding mayor’s veto of 10 new positions in the budget

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council will consider a proposal to overturn Mayor Linda Gorton’s veto of 10 positions the council added to the $532.9 budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The proposal will be heard at the council’s June 27 meeting.

Gorton announced the veto Tuesday, saying she had concerns about funding those positions in coming years. The estimated cost of those positions was $750,000.

However, that was only an estimate and many of the estimates for those salaries were only for a partial year. It can’t be known how much those positions would cost in coming years until the positions are created, city officials have said.

The 15-member council added the positions — which included two civilian staff in the Lexington Police Department — as part of changes it made to Gorton’s original budget proposal.

In a written release, the council said those 10 positions will help in needed areas such as traffic management, road paving, police, fire and 911 emergency services.

To pay for the positions, the council opted to increase the revenue estimate — the amount of money the city expects to receive in taxes and fees each year. The city has vastly underestimated that number in recent years, resulting in surpluses that have topped more than $20 million.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton unveils her $531.8 million budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1 during the council meeting on April 16, 2024.
Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton unveils her $531.8 million budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1 during the council meeting on April 16, 2024.

“Council voted with confidence to increase the FY2025 revenue estimates by a mere 0.15%,” the statement said.” This adjustment will fund these needed positions and keep us living well within our means. It will in no way endanger the fiscal health of the government, threaten to unbalance the budget, nor force us to raise taxes.”

The statement said the council also believes it has worked hard to shore up the city’s financial position.

“The city’s long-term financial health is a top priority for council and it is reflected in our funding and policy recommendations during the budget process.,” the statement read. “We demonstrated this with a recommendation to increase savings in our Economic Contingency Fund,(a savings account) continually evaluating our bonding to reduce debt payments, and enhancing cost-savings by reducing employee overtime.”

In her comments during Tuesday’s council work session, Gorton said she appreciated the work the council did on the budget and the veto was not personal.

The council needs nine votes to overturn the veto.

It will likely have them.

Not all council members voted to add the 10 positions. Council members Whitney Elliott Baxter and Fred Brown voted against.

Gorton’s veto was only the third mayoral veto of the budget in the 50-year history of the merged government. Former mayors Jim Gray and Foster Pettit also vetoed part of the budget.

The council voted to approve the budget June 13.

The budget has no tax increases, a 3% raise for most employees, $24 million for a second senior center, and money for a new regional industrial park.