Minimum Wage Wins Early Legal Test

As noted in my previous blog post, the Council’s Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee voted to table the issue of minimum wage until the legal challenge to Louisville’s action to raise the wage is resolved.  The Lexington Herald-Leader provides further analysis here.

The first legal hurdle was cleared on Monday (6/29/15), as the circuit court determined that a municipality has the authority to set a minimum wage. You can read the full decision here and a report from The Courier-Journal on this development here.  The plaintiffs who brought the suit  have stated that they will appeal this circuit court decision.

I voted against the motion to table the issue and I am hopeful this early legal victory will encourage the Council to reconsider, and that we will have enough support on council to make Lexington the second Kentucky city to pass an increase in the minimum wage.

 

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Minimum Wage Increase Delayed

The Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee discussed minimum wage yesterday (6/23/15), following a meeting on March 17th, 2015 and an opportunity for public comment on June 8th, 2015.  The committee packet from the June 23rd meeting is available for reference here.  You may also find a video of meeting by clicking here.

I was disappointed that  a majority of the Committee voted to table the issue until the legal challenge to Louisville’s decision to raise the minimum wage has been resolved.  As I have stated previously, I am supportive of raising the minimum wage and believe that Lexington should act, given the failure of action at the state and federal levels. While Lexington has enjoyed increasing prosperity over the past decade, a significant portion of local workers have not enjoyed the benefits of our growing economy. I will continue to look for ways to move this issue forward.

If you would like to receive email issue updates on minimum wage and/or other Council news from me, please sign up here.

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Final FY 16 Budget Update

Today, Thursday, June 18th, 2015, the final budget for the city of Lexington will be on the docket for its second reading before Council.  You can watch it live at 6 pm EST by clicking here.  After a final vote of approval, the budget will become law.

I posted the complete budget schedule earlier on my blog here.  For further reference, Mayor Gray’s Proposed Budget is posted in full here and highlights are available here.

Council made some modifications to the Mayor’s Proposed Budget after a thorough review by subcommittees, consideration of their recommendations, and consideration of changes recommended by council members. You can view those meetings online by clicking the links below:

A spreadsheet of the Council’s modifications to the Mayor’s Proposed Budget is available here.

Thank you to all constituents, staff, and council members for your attention and feedback to this fiscal year 2016 budget.

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Design Excellence Advances from Committee

Design Excellence Advances from CommitteeOn  June 9th, 2015, the Planning & Public Safety Committee voted to move the proposed Downtown Design Excellence Standards & Guidelines on to consideration by the full Council.  You can review the meeting materials by clicking here.  The video from the meeting will be posted here.

While final approval by Council remains to be secured, at this important juncture I thank all those who served on the Task Force for their hard work over a number of years. Special thanks to former Council Member Tom Blues, who preceded me as Chair of the Task Force, and architect Graham Pohl, landscape architect Tony Barrett, and Fayette Alliance Executive Director Knox Van Nagell, all of whom shared their expertise on the issue at this meeting and helped make the case for adopting the Task Force recommendations.

Final and most important thanks to Brandi Berryman and Jeff Fugate of the Lexington Downtown Development Authority for their staffing assistance and support throughout the life of the project. They did the heavy lifting, and the final set of recommendations is a testament to their professionalism and expertise.

If you would like to receive email issue updates on design excellence and/or other Council news from me, please sign up here.

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Public Comment Opportunity for Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage Steve KayOn Monday, June 8th, 2015 Council will hold a special Committee of the Whole meeting to hear public comment on raising the minimum wage in Lexington.  The meeting will be from 5:00 to 8:00 pm in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Government Center.  This is an opportunity for you to share with Council your perspective on this issue of great importance for our community.

This special meeting is being held because at the March 17th, 2015 Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee  meeting a large number of people who signed up to speak on this important issue did not get a chance to do so.  For further context, you may view that meeting online by clicking here:  Streaming Video of 3/17/15 Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee Meeting

I plan to support raising the minimum wage in Lexington because the minimum wage has failed to keep pace with rising costs and is one aspect of growing income inequality. Raising the minimum wage will have an immediate positive impact on those who struggle at the lowest end of our economy and on our local economy overall. You can review the research of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (KCEP) on this issue, which can be found in the following Committee packet:  3/17/15 Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee Packet

This issue will next be on the agenda of the June 23rd, 2015 Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee meeting.

If you would like to receive email issue updates on minimum wage and/or other Council news from me, please sign up here.

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Bluegrass Double Dollars Launches This Week (with video)

As readers of my blog know, Bluegrass Double Dollars is a new pilot project sponsored by the Blue Grass Community Foundation in partnership with LFUCG’s local food program, Bluegrass Farm to Table.  Double Dollars helps low-income families double their purchasing power for local fruits and vegetables and supports our local food economy.  You can view local media coverage about the program launch on WKTY by clicking the embedded video below:

Here are the key details about the program:

  •  The pilot phase of the grant will run from June 1st, 2015 until November 30th, 2015 or until grant funds are exhausted.
  • People who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are eligible for the program.
  • The pilot program includes three participating local food partners, each with its own process for redemption.
    • Good Foods Co-op
      • Make a qualifying SNAP purchase of at least $10 at any register
      • Receive one $10 voucher (limit 1 voucher per qualifying transaction, per customer per day) at the Hospitality Desk
      • Redeem your voucher at the Hospitality Desk that day or within 30 days for fresh, frozen, or canned local fruits and vegetables, local fruit and vegetable transplants, and local herbs
    • Lexington Market East End
      • Make a qualifying SNAP purchase of at least $5 at either register
      • Receive one $5 voucher (limit 1 voucher per qualifying transaction, per customer per day)
      • Redeem your voucher that day or within 30 days for fresh, frozen, or canned local fruits and vegetables, local fruit and vegetable transplants, and local herbs
    • Lexington Farmers’ Market
      • Visit the Market information booth and swipe your SNAP card
      • Receive $10 worth of tokens for a qualifying SNAP transaction of at least $10 (limit 1 Bluegrass Double Dollar match per customer per day)
      • Redeem your tokens that day or within 30 days for fresh, frozen, or canned local fruits and vegetables, local fruit and vegetable transplants, and local herbs at any vendor booth

For additional information, please contact Ashton with Bluegrass Double Dollars or Andrea with the Blue Grass Community Foundation:

If you would like to support the program, you may donate to it through its fiscal sponsor, the Blue Grass Community Foundation, by clicking here.

If you would like to receive email issue updates on local food and/or other Council news from me, please sign up here.

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Sign up for personalized issue alerts from Steve Kay

Receive Issue Alerts from Steve KayAs my newsletter subscribers know, I am updating my email list for 2015 so that I can better provide you with information that reflects your interests.

If you would like my office to keep you informed about specific community issues you care about, please take a few minutes to fill out the short form below.  I will provide you with email updates as your issues come before Council.

You can sign up for this new list for 2015 by using the embedded form below, or, if it is not visible in your web browser, you may click here instead.

As many of you have read in the news, the 2015 Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council is taking on important issues like the Downtown Design Excellence Standards and Guidelines as well as concluding budget negotiations.  Many of you have expressed interest in attending meetings, events, or just staying better informed about the issues that matter to you throughout the year.  By completing the form, you will be able to know when an issue, such as our local food economy, is coming before Council.  Even if you have provided similar feedback to me before, I ask that you update me with what matters to you as new issues emerge in 2015 and beyond.

Thank you for interest in the work of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council.

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Gigabit City Update

Fiber Optic Cable

In 2014, Mayor Gray announced Lexington’s intent to become a gigabit city. A gigabit city refers to a city that has the infrastructure and services to deliver data at speeds up to 1,000 megabytes per second (mbps) or 1 gigabyte per second to a household or business. The standard broadband speed for downloads is 10 mbps (16.2 mbps for Lexington). As a frame of reference, that’s the difference between downloading an HD movie in a half hour vs. a half minute.

In practical terms, Lexington’s gigabit transformation will involve building out fiber-optic cables. Fiber optic-cables have a much greater bandwidth than the current copper infrastructure used by the cable companies, and it will allow Lexingtonians to access data at much higher speeds.

A gigabit-capable fiber network will have advantages for businesses and consumers. For businesses, gigabit speeds will provide superior access to the information economy. For example, access to gigabit fiber was particularly helpful to the work of a geneticist in Provo, Utah. Downloading the human genome now takes the geneticist less than 30 minutes on a gigabit connection whereas the same download would take 77 hours over a standard connection. Having this infrastructure in place will be a strategic advantage for Lexington, as it will make our university city better suited for entrepreneurs and businesses that deal in intensive data. Much like access to rivers and oceans was critical during the industrial revolution, access to high-speed fiber networks is crucial for transporting high volumes of information in the new economy. And that’s becoming true for nearly all businesses, as they increasingly rely on the Internet for commerce, use software and applications in the cloud and back-up vital data in specialized repositories.

Consumers also stand to benefit substantially. With a fiber infrastructure in place, consumers will be better able to access high-definition content. Homes that subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus, and similar services can enjoy their favorite movies and TV programs over the Web, with family members able to stream content to more than one screen. The trend in content delivery is cord-cutting, which means more families are getting rid of increasingly expensive cable bills in favor of streaming HBO, ESPN and the other content they want over their Internet connection.

A team of city officials and stakeholders has been meeting monthly to explore a spectrum of public-private partnerships options and have released a “request for information” to aggregate private-sector interest. While the gigabit city initiative is still in the learning phase, one thing is immediately clear: Lexington’s density and high education-attainment levels is a competitive advantage for attracting investment in a fiber build out. Because the city has chosen to grow in instead of growing out, more households can be connected per mile of fiber optic cable than other medium-sized cities.

As a member of the gigabit city team, Vice Mayor Kay’s office will continue to keep you updated as this forward-thinking initiative develops. Lexington will soon have more to announce on its growing potential as a gigabit city, including our role as host city to a gigabit city conference in September 2015.

If you want to learn more and be engaged on this issue, I encourage you to connect with a grassroots movement growing to support this initiative, Advocates for Gigabit Internet in Lexington, Kentucky.

Would you like to receive email issue alerts on gigabit city and other Council news from Vice Mayor Kay? Please sign up here.

 

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Budget Process, Fiscal Year ’16

Council has been reviewing the Mayor’s Proposed Budget since he presented it on April 7, 2015.  After review by sub-committees, called Links, Council will consider the Links recommendations and all  proposals from individual council members for additions or modifications. We are scheduled to give final approval in June, for Fiscal Year ’16, which begins on July 1, 2015 and ends on June 30, 2016.  You can read the highlights of the budget as submitted by Mayor Gray here,  You can access the full version here.

Budget Review Timeline:

  • Links Report Out
    Date: 5/26/2015 10:00 AM
  • Public Hearing on Mayor’s Proposed Budget
    Date: 5/26/2015 3:00 PM
  • Revenue Update/Review Mayor’s Late Items/Review Links/Councilmember Recommendations
    Date: 6/2/2015 11:00 AM
  • Discussion of Proposed Amendments
    Date: 6/9/2015 9:00 AM
  • Ratify Budget/Motion to Place on Docket
    Date: 6/11/2015 6:00 PM
  • First Reading of Budget
    Date: 6/16/2015 3:00 PM
  • Second Reading of Budget (Budget becomes law)
    Date: 6/18/2015 6:00 PM

All meetings will be held in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Government Center at 200 E Main Street, Lexington, Kentucky.

Your feedback is always welcome in the form of public comment or you may reach my Council Office by clicking here.

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Lexington’s Downtown Management District Up For Approval

Drew Fleming, the Chair of the Downtown Lexington Corporation Board, discusses the Downtown Management District with Council

Drew Fleming, the Chair of the Downtown Lexington Corporation Board, discusses the Downtown Management District with Council

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council will hear the second reading of an ordinance for Lexington’s first Downtown Management District at this coming Council Meeting,  6:00 pm on May 7th, 2015. After a proposed ordinance receives a second reading with a majority of Council’s support, it then becomes law. You can view the presentation made at the April 14th, 2015 Work Session by clicking here.

A Downtown Management District functions much like a homeowners’ association, where all homeowners within a development or geographic area pay an assessment to advance common neighborhood interests, such as beautification, security, and maintenance. You can view a map of the area included in the proposed Downtown Management District by clicking here, and an informative video detailing Lexington’s proposal by clicking here.

The proposed Downtown Management District would have an annual tax of ten cents for every hundred dollars of property value. Council declined to approve a similar proposal  in 2013 because the effort did not have a majority of tax-paying property owners within the district signing a petition in support. (Non-profit and government properties are not assessed.)  State law requires that 33% of all property owners in the district must sign a petition for a management district and they must hold 51% of the assessed value.   In 2015, 51% of tax paying owners who hold 62.5% of the value signed the petition.

Given this increase in stakeholder support, well above the minimum set by state statute, I plan to vote in favor of creating this new district. I believe it will contribute substantially to efforts already underway to make our downtown even more visually appealing and vibrant. That will benefit all of Lexington.

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