Lexington wants the public to weigh in on how it should spend more than $100 million in federal coronavirus stimulus.
“We are looking for projects that are transformative and sustainable,” said Vice Mayor Steve Kay at a press conference Thursday announcing a new online survey for people to weigh in on what types of projects they would like to see funded.
In addition to the online survey, the city, Mayor Linda Gorton and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council are expected to host neighborhood meetings and town halls over the next two months.
The survey can be found at www.lexingtonky.gov/ARPA. In addition to the survey, people can also propose individual projects on the same website.
The survey will close on Aug. 27. During the town halls and neighborhood meetings, paper copies of the survey will be made available for those who do not have Internet access, city officials said Thursday.
The city is scheduled to receive $120 million over the next two years in American Rescue Plan Act funding. The city already used approximately $7.9 million of those federal stimulus dollars to fund park improvement projects in the current-year budget, which took effect July 1.
That leaves roughly $113 million.
Kay and the council have spent several weeks narrowing priority areas where the money should go. Those priorities are affected by restrictions on American Rescue Plan Act spending.
Top priority goes to projects that should directly impact vulnerable populations and projects that would help people most severely affected by the pandemic.
Next, projects that are budget-related, produce savings or increase revenue and have no ongoing costs.
Finally, listed as additional principles are projects that lead to economic opportunity, projects that have an impact on physical infrastructure and projects that have an impact on social infrastructure.
Mayor Linda Gorton said the city and the council are looking for large projects, not small, cheaper projects that can be funded through other means.
Thursday was the start of a process “that could lead to once in a lifetime opportunities for our community,” Gorton said.
After the council and the city look at the suggested projects and the survey results, which allow people to rank priority spending areas, they will continue to have more public engagement and meetings.
“We expect a full range of opportunities for people to participate in this process,” Kay said.
Kay said deliberations on spending some of the money will likely begin in earnest in the fall. The money has to be allocated by 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.
“We expect some of the projects will take time to implement,” Gorton said.
Gorton and council members have already heard from a lot of constituents and various groups with ideas, she said Thursday.
“What we are hoping for — long-term impact,” Gorton said.