LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — When Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton presented her FY21 budget proposal on Tuesday, she described it as “not the kind of budget we want. But it is the kind of budget the times demand.”
The losses in revenue as a result of slow business while businesses were closed due to COVID-19 will reflect $40 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
Gorton proposed more than $12.5 million in budget cuts for city government and a $6 million reduction for external agencies and nonprofits.
Included in the budget cut to external agencies is $2.1 million for the extended social resources grant program, which funds dozens of social services agencies every year.
Arbor Youth Services, an emergency shelter for children, uses the grant money to fund approximately 40% of their budget, according to the organization’s executive director Lori Clemons.
“I knew we expected money going to social services being decreased. Even greatly decreased. I don't think anybody expected the Mayor to zero it out,” said Clemons.
Darlene Thomas, executive director of Greenhouse 17, said she felt the same shock when she saw the budget proposal.
“I knew that we needed to share the burden and that our programs would share the burden, but it just felt more like we were bearing the entire burden with the funding completely cut 100%,” said Thomas. “I was not anticipating that one, and not very well prepared to hear it but I'm going to stay very hopeful that it's going to be rectified through the council.”
Gorton said the budget focuses on the nuts and bolts, putting basic services, like public safety, at the center.
“In the meantime we will tighten our belts, and live within our means,” said Gorton.
Clemons said she wonders about the ripple effect a large funding cut could have on organizations that provide resources for vulnerable populations.
“I want to convey to the public and the city that even if we managed to get through this next year without any financial support, that doesn't mean we can going forward,” said Clemons. “That doesn't mean the money didn't matter. That just means we're doing what we can to make up for [money] this year.”
Both Clemons and Thomas said they are hopeful the final budget will include funding for nonprofits and the ESR grant program.
Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government council members have until June 30 to make changes and approve the budget.
You can read the FY21 budget proposal here.