Mayor Linda Gorton has announced a proposed Lexington budget for the upcoming 2021 fiscal year that starts July 1. The $372 million financial plan cuts grants to social service and outside agencies, stops the hiring process for 47 open positions in government, and cuts $12.6 million across all city programs and activities.
“First, to make up for the projected drop of over 10 percent in our General Fund revenue, I am not proposing any kind of tax increase.
Savings related to employees add up to over $7.5 million. We are not laying off permanent employees. We will not fund about 47 vacant positions. There are no pay raises for employees outside of those required by contract, and no new positions funded in this budget.
Over $12.6 million in reductions big and small are scattered throughout the government. My team has taken a strategic approach to cutbacks … this is not a one-size-fits-all, across-the-board percentage cut across all divisions. We have tried to choose thoughtfully and carefully. For example, we’ve cut back on landscaping and mowing in Environmental Quality and Public Works; on social services; on athletics programming and pools in Parks; and on the affordable housing fund.
In Public Safety, we have cut some extras but maintained essential operational spending. Public Safety accounts for more than 57% of this General Fund Budget. – same as last year, underscoring the importance of Public Safety, even in a very challenging budget year. We have funded recruit classes and overtime in Police, Fire, and Corrections.
The reductions in this budget also affect programs outside the government that the city helps support. Overall, we are reducing funding of external agencies by $6 million.
The cut to external agencies that concerns me the most is the suspension of our Extended Social Resource grants … grants that support many important social service agencies.
These agencies will receive some federal funding to cover their COVID-19 – related expenses, but I know our cuts will hurt … hurt people who are in need of our help. We have worked very hard to assist these partners as they’ve taken on burdens that were unimaginable a few short weeks ago. We’ve helped them find extended shelter space, raised money, and provided people and resources … and we will continue to help.
In the meantime, this is an important opportunity for citizens … if you can afford to help these agencies and the people who depend on them, now’s the time … yes, now’s the time to pull together as a community and support our local non-profits!
We are also suspending direct funding for LexArts, and instead issuing a challenge. The city will provide a grant of up to $200,000 to match funds raised by LexArts, dollar-for-dollar, after July 1.
In addition to LexArts, we are suspending funding to other cultural facilities, including the History Museum and the Explorium.
Again, this is an opportunity for all of these organizations to find new donors, and for citizens to demonstrate their support.”