Best Practices for Recycling in the New Year

As we work together to recycle and keep Lexington green in the New Year, please keep in mind that certain categories of recyclables require special handling.  What follows is an overview of best practices, beginning with three broad categories of materials and corresponding details for how to handle those items:

  1. Electronics—Monitors, old computers, cell phones, printers, and similar items can be recycled at Lexington’s Electronics Recycling Center,  It is located at 1306 Versailles Road.  A full list of acceptable items is available here.  The complex components of electronics can be toxic to the environment in a landfill and difficult to deconstruct in a standard recycling center.  Therefore, please take e-waste to Lexington’s Electronics Recycling Center for appropriate care.
  2. Batteries—Most rechargeable batteries, like those built into cell phones, can go to Lexington’s Electronics Recycling Center. The facility, however, does not recycle alkaline batteries, which are the common non-rechargeable  batteries such as AA, AAA, 9V available at many retailers.  Those batteries can be recycled at Batteries Plus for a small fee.  Lead acid, a chemical composition commonly used in car batteries, can be recycled at Batteries Plus but not the Electronics Recycling Center.
  3. Metal items—Common items like aluminum beverage cans, steel cans for food, etc. can go in your blue recycling cart after rinsing. However, metal items such as knives, forks, chains, and helium tanks should not be placed in your blue recycling cart.  Instead, those items should go to a specific metal recycling receptacle at the Lexington Recycling Center located at 360 Thompson Road.

A couple of types of items are available for pick-up at no charge.  These include:

  1. Appliances—Residents with waste collection service can arrange for LFUCG pick up of air conditioners, freezers, refrigerators, water heaters, and similar appliances at no charge. LFUCG will accept appliances with Freon but not those with oil.  For complete details regarding appliances including how to arrange a pickup, please click here.  Alternately, you can drop off your appliances at 3899 Winchester Road.
  2. Christmas trees—LFUCG will collect artificial and natural Christmas trees until January 26, 2018 as part of the city’s weekly waste collection. Natural trees will be composted.  Unfortunately, artificial trees will go to a landfill.  I would therefore encourage you to donate your unneeded yet cared for artificial trees to the Habitat for Humanity Restore at 451 Southland Drive. Additional detail is available at LexingtonRestore.com.  You can learn more about holiday-related recycling services here.  A graphic detailing the recycling services for most common holiday materials is available here.

Additionally, many items one might intuitively think would go into the blue recycling cart should instead be handled differently.   These items include but are not limited to the following:

  • Plastic bags from the grocery (can be returned and recycled at many stores)
  • Air pillows for shipping
  • Molded plastic packaging for electronics and toys
  • Coat hangers
  • Disposable cups, hot or cold
  • Lids to plastic bottles and containers

Rather than committing these special cases to memory, I recommend printing this sheet detailing what can be recycled in a blue cart, this sheet detailing what cannot be recycled in a blue cart, and this sheet reviewing the protocol for electronics.  Placing these sheets next to your home recycling bin can be a helpful reminder.  LexTV also has a PSA video viewable online here.

For those who do not receive waste collection services from the city, please take your regular recycling items to one of the locations noted on the map at this link.

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What makes Lexington a “University City”?

I had the opportunity recently to speak with the Mayor’s Chief Innovation Officer, Scott Shapiro, about his work.  His focus is transformative projects, such as fiber optic infrastructure, and has included developing a typology—university cities—that identifies and builds upon the unique benefits that a number of small cities like Lexington share. You can view the video of our Council Comment conversation below:

If  you are interested in a more thorough primer on university cities, I recommend you read Scott Shapiro’s article in Next City, here.  For even more depth, please review resources from the University Cities conference. Video of the complete event is available online. Should you wish to pursue your own research in this area, please consider applying for a Knight Foundation grant.  Awards can range from $2,500 to $10,000.

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Final Vote Near for Comprehensive Plan Update

The final vote (second reading) on the 2018 Comprehensive Plan’s Goals & Objectives is scheduled  for the November 16, 2017 Council Meeting.  Regarding what many consider the key provision, Council initially voted 8-7 to include an amendment that, in my judgement, would have effectively allowed expansion of the Urban Services Boundary.  That amendment is available here.  At the November 7, 2017 Work Session, Council voted 8-7 to remove that amendment.   You can see that vote below.  Council then voted to place approval of the Goals and Objectives, as amended, on the Council docket.

The current draft includes red-line markups, which represent all changes the Council made to the recommendationA red-line version of the Planning Commission’s recommendation is on pages 1-6 of the September 26, 2017 packet for Council.  For more background on the overall process please see my earlier blog post.  More details are contained in the record of Planning Commission meetings here, and you can see the relevant Council materials here and associated videos below:

Two aspects in the 2018 Plan warrant particular note: the focus on equity and the call for a more consistent process for growth decision-making.  Equity in this context refers to developing fairly.  It means our community grows in a way that guards against the displacement and disenfranchisement of low-income residents.  Equitable development’s priority is reflected in its placement in the mission statement of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan.  Theme A, Goal 4, Objective B reinforces equity by calling for a “[p]lan for equitable and accessible social services and healthcare facilities…”  Theme C, Goal 1, Objective E encourages “…developers of government-funded or subsidized projects to employ residents in the vicinity…”  These revisions help incorporate equity into Imagine Lexington and our future, and I am pleased to see our community moving in this more thoughtful direction.

Goal 4 in Theme E is new to the Comprehensive Plan.  It calls for the creation of a more objective process for decision-making regarding land use, the Urban Services Boundary, and the Rural Activity Centers.  Creating this framework should be a constructive endeavor.  Preservation of the rural area and continuing economic development are key dimensions in charting Lexington’s future, and they have at times been in tension.  Establishing a more objective process to identify criteria for where and when new land for development is needed can provide both better protection for our rural areas and greater predictability for developers regarding land availability.  I am hopeful this new approach will reduce the guesswork in preservation as well as development and build strong roots for our strategic decision-making moving forward.

My thanks to all who helped develop the Goals & Objectives for this Plan.  Contributors include over 11,000 Lexingtonians who gave feedback in On the Table, Planning staff, the Planning Commission, my fellow Councilmembers, and the many residents of our community who contributed their thoughts through messages and directly at Council meetings.

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LexGig Rural Area Analysis Update

Chief Information Officer Aldona Valicenti and Chief Innovation Officer Scott Shapiro provided an update on the LexGig project at the September 19, 2017 Environmental Quality & Public Works Committee Meeting (video here).  LexGig is an initiative that will bring Internet data speeds to Lexington at a rate 1,000 megabits per second by deploying fiber optic cables as infrastructure.  Our current average rate is 16.2 megabits per second.  Even though Lexington is the second largest city in Kentucky and home to a research university, we rank 38th out of the 96 Kentucky cities and towns where the Internet is available.  For additional background on the project, please see my previous blog posts here, here, here, and my newsletter here.  Additional information is available on the LFUCG website here.

In 2015, CTC Technology & Energy conducted a gigabit city study within the urban services boundary.  After reviewing that research, Council and other stakeholders were also interested in the possibility of deploying fiber to the rural area. The September presentation served to update Council on that broader scope of analysis, and it summarized findings from the full report provided to Council earlier in the summer.  For your reference and review, those materials are available here.

Some key takeaways included the following:

  • The cost to deploy fiber in the rural area is roughly 9 times the cost of deploying in the denser areas inside the urban services boundary.
  • Providing a fiber optic connection to every neighborhood and business would cost roughly $43 million, a strategy the consultant discouraged.
  • The Federal government offers Connect America funds to assist with fiber optic deployment in rural areas, and while our land does not currently meet the definition, the city believes a waiver is appropriate given that our rural area is not intended for future development.
  • A solution for rural access could include providing a “middle mile” approach, a strategy that resembles the 20th century model of connecting citizens through interstates and highways that interested parties can then further develop into arterial roadways with branches to homes and businesses.

The LexGig project can be a good fit for Lexington.  It takes advantage of our infill and redevelopment policy; having more consumers per mile of fiber allows Lexington to compete in a higher league when attracting investment.  The project can also create a more competitive marketplace for content delivery, and Lexingtonians frustrated by existing service providers can reap the benefits.

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Comprehensive Plan Goals & Objectives, Next Steps

Lexington is engaging in the final stages of updating the Comprehensive Plan Goals and Objectives.  For additional background on the substance and process of the Plan, please see my earlier blog post here and this video.  As the earlier post notes, the Council reviews the Planning Commission’s recommendation for the Plan’s Goals & Objectives.  The public is welcome to provide comment during Council’s public hearing on October 24, 2017 at 5:00 pm,  and to submit written comments at any time during the process. The details of Council’s procedure on the Goals & Objectives are outlined below for transparency and convenient reference.

As Vice Mayor I appointed an ad hoc committee, which includes all Councilmembers, to review the Goals & Objectives.  The Council has 90 days to vote on the Planning Commission’s recommendation after receiving it. If the Council takes no action within the 90 days, then the Planning Commission’s recommendation stands.  To meet this deadline, our ad hoc committee  met on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 @ 11am (video here) and will meet on the following dates and times:

All meetings are in the Council Chambers for the public to view and are broadcast on Lex TV through cable and online.  As noted above, the October 24, 2017 meeting will be a public hearing with opportunity for public comment. The other meetings are devoted to Council discussion.

This ad hoc committee timeline will allow Council to move to place the final Goals & Objectives on the docket no later than the November 7, 2017 Work Session.  The final Goals & Objectives will then receive first reading no later than the November 9, 2017 Council Meeting and second reading no later than the November 16, 2017 Council Meeting.

 

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How Will We Grow?

On Thursday, August 31, at 1:30 pm in Council Chambers the Urban County Government Planning Commission will hold a work session for public input on their recommendations to Council for the Goals and Objectives section of the five-year update of our Comprehensive Plan.  The plan provides a guide to both broad policies and specific planning decisions over the next five years.

To help people understand more about the Comprehensive Plan and the update process, a group of us have developed a short video with a perspective on the challenges we face and an outline of how decisions will be made. You can also learn more about my views from my interview with Tom Martin and my op ed piece, both published earlier this month in the Herald-Leader.

The public will have additional opportunities for input as Council considers the recommendations from the Planning Commission and decides on the final wording of the Goals and Objectives.  I will provide updates about those opportunities. And, as always, you can share your views on these important decisions directly with Council members.

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Additional Clarifications on Statue Vote before Council

Thank you to the many constituents who have contacted my office about the John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge statues.  I support the Mayor’s resolution as a reasonable path forward that respects and preserves the long history that led up to and followed the Civil War, and also respects our current views about what we should and should not honor in that long history.

Many of you have contacted me seeking clarity about the substance and process of Council’s work on this important issue.   Please see a few frequently asked questions, answers, and contextual details below:

What vote is Council taking?

On Tuesday, August 15, 2017, Council unanimously voted to place the Mayor’s resolution on the docket.  On Thursday, August 17, 2017, we will have the first reading of the Mayor’s resolution on the docket at the Council Meeting.  Specifically, the resolution before us asks Council to express support for moving the statues to a more appropriate place.  You can read the full resolution by clicking here.  The resolution also asks the Mayor to determine the new location and report back to Council with that information within 30 days.  Council’s vote of support is important because it expresses solidarity to the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission.

Who has authority over the statues?

The Kentucky Military Heritage Commission maintains a registry of significant Kentucky military heritage sites.  The John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge statues are part of the registry.  The designation means that under state law no one can remove or significantly alter the statues without the Commission’s consent.  Should the Council approve moving the statues to a specified location, the city  intends to ask the Commission to schedule a meeting to approve moving the statues.   If the Commission approves, the city will then be able to relocate the statues.  For additional information on the Commission’s role and scope of authority, please see KRS 171.780 to 171.788.

What is the timeline?

As noted earlier, Council unanimously voted at the Tuesday, August 15, 2017 Work Session to place the resolution on the docket.   Placing an item on the docket means that it will go before an official Council Meeting to have a public reading.  Under the normal course of business, each piece of legislation in the form of an ordinance or resolution will receive a first reading at a Council Meeting and a second/final reading at the subsequent Council Meeting.  Council also has the option to suspend the rules and give a first and second reading to legislation at the same meeting.  Following two readings and an affirmative Council vote, the legislation can then become law.

The resolution to move the statues will appear for a first reading at the August 17, 2017 Council Meeting.  The second and final reading, assuming the Council does not suspend the rules to give the legislation first and then second reading at the same meeting, will be on Thursday, August 31, 2017.  However, this vote is not the last step for Council.  The resolution also asks the Mayor to recommend, within a 30 day window of the resolution’s passage, where the statues will go,  a necessary step before moving forward.  Should the Council approve the move to a specific location, the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission will need to meet to consider the city’s request.  If they approve, the city will then be able to transfer the statues to a new location.

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 Field to Table Dinner – August 19, 2017

Field to Table Dinner

The second annual Fayette County Farm Bureau Field to Table Dinner will be held this Friday, August 19, 2017 at Grimes Mill Winery in Lexington, Kentucky.  For those did not attend last year, this is a beautiful event with outstanding food.  You can see photographs from the 2016 event here.

Tours and social hour will begin at 6:00 p.m.  Dinner, featuring delicious food from chef Ouita Michel, will be served at 7:00 p.m.  The ticket cost is $75 per person, which includes a $25 tax-deductible donation to FoodChain.  You can purchase your tickets here and see the Facebook event for additional details here.  I look forward to seeing you there.

 

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Council Adopts FY 2018 Budget

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) begins a new fiscal year on July 1st of every calendar year.  Therefore Council must adopt the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget before the end of June 2017.   I am pleased to report my colleagues and I approved the budget on schedule at last night’s (6/22/17) Council Meeting.  You can view the FY18 budget ordinance and its formal path before Council here.

The most significant change to the FY18 budget versus previous years is the addition of 30 new police officers, the largest one-year increase for Lexington police since the city and county merged governments in 1974.  Also included is sustained funding for the One Lexington Director, a staff person who will coordinate a community-wide response to drugs and crime.  Council revisions to the Mayor’s Proposed Budget (MPB) were relatively few but included adding 12 staff to Fire & EMS as well as debt service for bonding the connection for Citation Boulevard and Winburn Drive.  To support these and other changes, Council reallocated budget funds, perhaps most notably $500,000 combined from the Jobs Fund and the Public Infrastructure Fund.  You can see the complete, detailed list of adopted Council revisions here.  The list includes recommendations from Council and late budget updates from the Administration.  For reference, the original MPB is available here.

The FY18 adopted budget was the result of a process I believe gets progressively better each year.  Communication has improved, and the congenial norms of Council help us focus on doing good work.  Much of our discussion during our final Budget Committee of the Whole Meeting focused on how to increase staffing sustainably for a growing population.  Lexington has seen robust economic growth, but projections for the upcoming years suggest a plateau in the rate of increase.  As part of our budget conversation, we also discussed ways to best support our signature rural area, including using PDR funding for Castleton Lyons.  While a majority of Council did not support this item for FY18, we will continue to look for ways to preserve our iconic bluegrass.

I am thankful to my colleagues for contributing to a smooth process.  As a Council, we will continue to look for ways to improve.  I appreciate the thoughtfulness of my fellow Councilmembers who have chosen to withhold many important priorities until we can review the fund balance in the fall.  I am also grateful to the work of Administration in crafting the budget and the thoughtfulness from the public’s engagement.

 

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Message of Affirmation for Lexington’s Immigrants

I am the child of a refugee and immigrant. As a child, my father fled with his parents and little sister from oppression and persecution in Russia, arriving at Ellis Island in 1923.  So I have a personal reason to deeply value the openness and inclusion experienced by so many immigrants as they were welcomed to our country.  I have worked in my public life to ensure we continue to be that place of welcome.

In response to community fears, some colleagues and I put together a public service announcement emphasizing how much Lexington values its immigrant community. Please feel free to share this message of affirmation and inclusion.


 To learn more about how GlobalLex is making Lexington more welcoming for all, please see my earlier blog post here.

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