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Lexington council votes to restore funding for social services

Posted at 5:27 PM, Jun 05, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — During a Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government meeting on Tuesday, the city council voted to restore some funding for social services slashed in Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton’s budget proposal.

Changes made by the council would add more than $6 million dollars to Gorton’s proposed $372 million budget for 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. This drew criticisms from social service advocates who told LEX 18 in May that they were shocked to see items like the extended social resources grant program nearly eliminated.

“It was shocking,” Arbor Youth Services Executive Director Lori Clemons said. “I wouldn't have ever imagined that any administration would cut funding for social services, especially during a time where you're recognizing as essential services during this pandemic.”

Clemons said learning the city council voted to restore some funding to social services and affordable housing came as a relief.

“A city's budget is a moral document. It reflects the priorities and values of the city and so our budget should reflect support for the most marginalized,” Clemons said. “I really had faith that our city council and the administration would value the services that all of these nonprofits provide the community.”

Arbor Youth Services is a nonprofit that provides emergency shelter for youths.

In the past, the extended social resources grant program has funded approximately 40% of Arbor Youth Services’ annual budget, according to Clemons. The elimination of the grant program would mean the nonprofit would need to ramp up its fundraising efforts to match the lost funding, and might have led them to make cuts to certain programs and staff hours.

“Emergencies happen and without ESR funding, a child could be at a safe place site and we wouldn't be able to pick them up when they're having their crisis,” she said.

The first reading of the FY2021 budget by council members is scheduled for June 9 at 3 p.m. You can tune in to the meeting via live stream at this link.