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Lexington, Kentucky

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Lexington is a town in Fayette in Kentucky. It is the second-largest city in Kentucky, after Louisville, and in 2010, its population was 295,803. In 1974, the governments of the city of Lexington and Fayette County, Kentucky combined to create the current Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.[1]

Elected Officials

Urban County Council

The Urban County Council is the legislative branch of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, with the power to establish budgets, set policy and levy taxes, subject to limits set by the Charter and state laws. Urban County Council consists of 12 Council District members and 3 At-Large members. The District members are elected for 2-yr terms and may serve up to 6 consecutive terms. The At-Large members are elected for 4-yr terms and may serve up to 3 consecutive terms. The at-large member who receives the most votes in the general election becomes the Vice Mayor. In the absence of the Mayor, the Vice Mayor is the presiding officer.[2]

District Council Member
Vice Mayor Linda Gorton
At-Large Chuck Ellinger
At-Large Steve Kay
District 1 Chris Ford
District 2 Tom Blues
District 3 Diane Lawless
District 4 Julian Beard
District 5 Bill Farmer, Jr
District 6 Kevin Stinnett
District 7 K.C. Crosbie
District 8 George Myers
District 9 Jay McChord
District 10 Doug Martin
District 11 Peggy Henson
District 12 Ed Lane

Mayor Jim Gray

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray was elected in November 2011. Before this, he was vice mayor of the city for four years.[3] He is on a leave of absence from Gray Construction, where he had been an executive.

Public Employees

As of April 2011, there are 3,078 full-time employees and vacant positions in city government. On April 13, 2011, Mayor Jim Gray proposed laying off 28 employees in four divisions (government communications, parks, social services, and building security). In addition to the layoffs, Gray proposed cutting 215 vacant positions.[4].

Emergency Personnel

The Chief of Police is Ronnie J. Baston, who is a 23-year veteran of the city's police force. The Division of Police currently has authorized 570 sworn personnel and more than 150 civilian personnel to serve a population of approximately 270,000. Well over 550 vehicles are included in the Division's fleet to patrol the 284 square miles of jurisdiction. The majority of these vehicles are a part of the Home Fleet Plan which gives officers take-home privilege. The budget for the Division of Police is now in excess of 49 million dollars annually.[5]

The Fire Chief is Robert G. Hendricks.[6]

Budget

See also: Kentucky state budget


The total budget for the city in fiscal year 2011 is $468,339,306.[7] Of this:

  • $274,481,370 was spent for general services, which supports basic services such as police, fire, planning and zoning, parks and recreation, libraries, and other community services and is financed primarily by employee withholdings/net profits license fees and property taxes
  • $50,000 was spent on tenant relocation, which accounts for relocation assistance to eligible low-income tenants displaced by the rezoning, redevelopment, or change in use of property
  • $37,757,273 was spent on urban services, which accounts for refuse collection, street lights, and street cleaning services provided by the government. These services are funded by an additional property tax paid only by the property owners in the respective service districts
  • and $204,069,353 was spent on other funds, which includes special revenue funds, capital projects funds, enterprise funds, fiduciary funds, and internal service funds.[8]

Public Pensions

The city's fire and police pension fund is facing a shortfall of $585 million. A failure to make payments into the fund and reducing minimum retirement age of those officers from 50 to 46 have contribute to the shortfall.[9]

Lexington is the only city or county in Kentucky with its own pension fund. The rest of the state’s public employees are in the County Employee Retirement System (CERS). Lexington’s plan is more generous than CERS. Although the city has its own public safety pension fund, it does not have complete control over it. Benefits are set by the General Assembly. A local pension board, made up of numerous police and fire representatives, oversees it.[10]

Stimulus Spending

In March 2009, then-mayor Jim Newberry announced $23 million in stimulus spending.[11] $12 million of this was spent in the Newtown Pike Extension, where it was used to help construct the section of road that connects Main Street to Versailles Road. $5.4 million of it was spent on LexTran, which was used for new buses, shelters, scheduling software, communications, conversion of buses to hybrid technology and for other needs. $4.7 million was spent on Legacy Trail, allowing for completion of the first two phases of the trail from the Kentucky HorsePark to the Northside YMCA on Loudon Avenue. The last $1.1 million will be spent on Downtown Streetscapes, which will install curbside rain gardens, wider sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes and non-peak “parking lanes” on Main Street from Broadway to Elm Tree Lane.[12]

Transparency and public records

The website has information on how to make public records.[13]

A local non-profit, OpenLexington.org, has launched to bring more transparency to the government's documents.[14]

In April 2011, Mayor Jim Gray called for more spending transparency with the taxpayer-funded Commerce Lexington.[15]

Lobbying

See also: Kentucky government sector lobbying


Lexington taxpayers fund Commerce Lexington, an organization that lobbies to bring businesses to the city. In the past five years, the organization has earned $2.5 million from the city.[16]

Lexington is also a member of the Kentucky League of Cities, an organization that lobbies on behalf of Kentucky cities.[17]

Lexington taxpayers also support the city's membership in the National League of Cities, a national organization that lobbies on behalf of cities.[18]

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngB-
Budget
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Meetings P
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Elected Officials
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Administrative Officials
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Permits, zoning
{{{1}}}
Audits
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Contracts N
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Lobbying N
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Public Records
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Local Taxes
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Transparency grading process

See also: Evaluation of Kentucky city websites


The good

  • A complete budget is posted.[19]
  • Elected officials and their contact information are posted.[20]
  • Administrative officials are posted with their contact information.[21]
  • Building permits and zoning information are posted.[22]
  • Audits are posted.[23]
  • Instructions on how to gain access to public records are online.[24]
  • Tax information is provided.[25]

The bad

  • Not all meeting agendas and minutes are posted.[26]
  • Contracts and lobbying information are not posted online.

References