Mayor Gorton delivers State of the Merged Government address

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – Mayor Linda Gorton delivered her third State of the Merged Government address Tuesday afternoon.

This year’s speech was given remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions. Gorton highlighted some of the challenges and some of the victories the city had over the past year.

While the city had projected a 36 million dollar shortfall for the current budget, they now say they are doing better than anticipated. Federal money has helped the city help those in need.

“Perseverance means continuing to help those who have lost their jobs and are in danger of losing their homes,” Mayor Gorton said. “We have provided more than $3.6 million in rent assistance to just under 1,300 families, and there is more to come.”

Gorton said, because of the pandemic, construction projects in the city were ahead of schedule. That included replacing sewer lines, building new trails, and the renovation of Rupp Arena and the Central Bank Center.

“Work on the facility, which began in August 2018, is expected to be complete early next year, several months ahead of early projections,” Mayor Gorton said.

She also highlighted new jobs that would be coming to the city, with Baptist Health building a new facility in Hamburg and Amazon adding 600 jobs. Those are welcome additions to a job market that has seen thousands laid off because of the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has rocked our community. But we’ve maintained a laser focus on our people and the services they need,” Mayor Gorton said. “Our focus has not wavered, even when faced with plummeting revenues and rising infection rates and shuttered businesses and the rise of unemployment claims to historic levels and the loss of all of our favorite traditions.”

Mayor Gorton also announced the appointment of former council member Lisa Higgins-Hord to oversee a city hall team that will work on the recommendations from the Racial Justice and Equality Commission.

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