This is my last year on the Urban County Council, and it was a privilege to serve Lexington’s 10th Council District. It has been a busy four years.
The lack of money at city hall has been the overriding theme during my time on the council. Employees were laid off, salaries frozen, employee benefits cut, healthcare premiums raised, and funding for government divisions and partner agencies slashed. We found out that Lexington owes about $585 million for pensions and medical benefits for our police and firefighters, and that this shortfall is growing rapidly. We also passed a resolution requiring council approval of collective bargaining agreements, a big win for fiscal restraint.
Water quality was also a constant theme. In 2009 the council approved the Water Quality Management Fee, which LFUCG is using to bring our polluted creeks and streams into compliance with the EPA Consent Decree. The EPA mandated that LFUCG repair our sanitary sewers to withstand a “two-year rain event.” This sounds like a minor upgrade but carries a $540-million price tag. We also began a $100,000 residential repair grant program for low and moderate income residents who are plagued by chronic sewage backups in their basements.
I have spent quite a lot of time on roads. The council used to divide road repaving funds equally among council districts, but this left small districts with great roads and large districts with terrible roads. In 2010 we changed the way LFUCG allocates road money, and now funds are divided based on the percentage of roads in each district rated below 65 (out of 100). While this puts money where it is most needed, our list of roads below 65 continues to grow.