Commission Discusses Unity, New Jobs, Art, Airport
By WestKyStar Staff
PADUCAH, KY - Here are highlight of the November 13 Paducah City Commission Meeting, from Pam Spencer, Public Information Officer:
Post-Merger Vote Discussion
Mayor Bill Paxton and Mayor-Elect Gayle Kaler are speaking with the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday at a Chamber retreat. One of the topics they plan to discuss is moving forward after the defeat of the vote to create a Charter County government. Mayor Bill Paxton says, “It’s time to quit the division. It’s time for healing and not to keep bringing the merger up.” Commissioner Gerald Watkins says, “To continue to bring it up, it’s a waste of capital money, time, and energy.” City Manager Jeff Pederson says he plans to engage McCracken County in looking for opportunities for cooperation, consolidation, and collaboration. Pederson says he has been impressed with the level of cooperation and collaboration between the two government entities regarding economic development and the Murray State University Paducah Campus bond. Pederson also would like to generate an inventory of the numerous cooperation efforts that have taken place between the City and County.
Support for TeleTech Services Corporation Partnership
The Mayor and Commissioners approved an ordinance to support and authorize Greater Paducah Economic Development Council, Inc. (GPEDC) to partner with TeleTech Services Corporation. TeleTech plans to bring to Paducah a customer care center, a call-center, and employ 450 full-time employees with benefits. The jobs would have a minimum salary of $9.50 per hour. TeleTech was founded in 1982 and has offices in 17 countries. In this ordinance, the city-owned Commerce Center located at 401 Kentucky Avenue will be transferred to GPEDC for $1.00. After renovation, the Commerce Center would be used for a portion of Teletech’s operations with 150 employees stationed there. To house the 300 additional employees, a new building will be constructed on McCracken Boulevard in the Paducah Commerce Park (formerly known as Information Age Park). TeleTech would have a total annual payroll of $9 million which would bring $180,000 in local payroll taxes. Also, in this ordinance the City of Paducah would allocate up to $1.35 million to the renovation and construction projects. The City would issue a 15-year bond for the construction. City Manager Jeff Pederson says, “The job creation will create enough of a revenue stream through the payroll tax to pay the bond payment.” GPEDC and McCracken County also are sharing in providing funds for the renovation and construction projects by providing $1.5 million and $1.35 million, respectively. GPEDC President/CEO Chad Chancellor says bringing TeleTech to Paducah would have a multiplier effect in generating additional jobs. Chancellor says using a U.S. Chamber of Commerce multiplier, an additional 120-150 jobs would be created to help service TeleTech.
Paducah School of Art Presentation
West Kentucky Community & Technical College President Dr. Barbara Veazey briefed the Mayor and Commissioners on the latest plans with the expansion of the Paducah School of Art into LowerTown. Dr. Veazey says, “It will be something that this community will take great pride in.” Mayor Paxton says, “This will be something that will eventually transform downtown and LowerTown.” A groundbreaking was held at Madison Hall on October 25. The ceramics program will be at that facility starting in January. Next to Madison Hall will be the facility for the sculpture program which is scheduled to be completed for students by January 2014. Dr. Veazey also says the Pickle Factory location in LowerTown is proposed to be the location for the drawing and painting programs. Once that facility is opened, the Paducah School of Art would no longer need the Broadway location. Dr. Veazey asked the Mayor and Commissioners for an extension of the City’s financial support of the Paducah School of Art. Currently, the City is providing $75,000 each year for a total of three years. Dr. Veazey requested an extension of an additional two years. Mayor-Elect Kaler says, “I agree that the art school is a large economic driver. It brings art awareness to the community.” Commissioner Gerald Watkins says, “I think the art school is vital to the importance and growth of the art community and downtown and LowerTown.” The Mayor and Commissioners support the Paducah School of Art but will need to review the budget before making the financial commitment.
Barkley Regional Airport Update
Barkley Regional Airport Manager Richard Roof provided an annual briefing on the status of the airport. Roof says, “The airline industry for the first time in 85 years has reached a maturity level.” Roof says there is less competition and not a lot of room to grow in the airline industry; however, Barkley Regional Airport has been quite successful with SkyWest and has seen increased ridership this year. Roof says, “Our future is bright compared to those around us.” He says there are industry concerns such as the cost of fuel, a lack of passenger growth, a pilot shortage, and the uncertainty of the essential air service. Nevertheless, Barkley has already surpassed SkyWest’s passenger forecasts for the current calendar year and boasts an average airfare of $171 which is lower than last year’s and $9 cheaper than the average for the 74 airports in the southern district. Roof says the airport’s goal is to increase the passenger load to a level that would warrant a third flight. He says the daily passenger load would need to rise to 125-130 passengers.
Banterra Bank Construction Line of Credit
The Mayor and Commissioners approved an ordinance to execute a contract with Banterra Bank for a construction line of credit not to exceed $900,000. Proposals were received from CFSB, Independence Bank, FNB, and Banterra Bank with Banterra submitting the lowest interest rate of 2.95% fixed. The funds will be used for the construction of seven homes in the Fountain Avenue Neighborhood for low to moderate-income families. As each home is sold, the borrowed money plus interest will be paid back to Banterra Bank by the new homeowner. Before construction begins on each home, the City is required to have a pre-qualified buyer. Three future homeowners have been pre-qualified to date. In July 2012, the City accepted the funding agreement in the amount of $309,500 for the Kentucky Housing Corporation’s 2012 HOME grant. This homeowner assistance grant will be used to help build the seven new single-family homes.
Dragon Boat Festival Update
River Discovery Center Executive Director Julie Harris provided the Mayor and Commissioners with a recap of the inaugural Dragon Boat Festival held September 22 on Paducah’s riverfront. Commissioner Richard Abraham says, “The energy on the riverfront was amazing.” Harris says, “The business community jumped at the chance to participate.” The Dragon Boat Festival involved 26 local teams racing in heats by paddling 40-foot long boats. Proceeds from the team entry fees and sponsorships benefited the educational programs at the River Discovery Center. Harris estimates the event brought 2500-3000 people to the riverfront. Next year, Harris hopes to have 36 teams. The 2013 Dragon Boat Festival is set for September 21.
Amendment to Compost Fees for Disposal of Green Waste
The Mayor and Commissioners approved a municipal order amending the fees for commercial customers of the Compost Facility located on North 8th Street. The change simplifies the fee structure. There is no charge for city residents to dispose of green waste. For commercial organizations working for city residents the fees for the disposal of green waste are as follows:
•$5 for pick-up truck and small trailer
•$10 for larger trailer and single-axle dump truck
•$25 for double-axle and triple-axle dump truck
•$50 for 20 cubic yards or more
•Ordinance approved accepting the $20,000 grant from the MetLife Foundation. The award recognizes the partnerships between the Planning Department, Police Department, and the Midtown Alliance of Neighbors to revitalize the Fountain Avenue Neighborhood. No local match is required. The funds will be used to hire a part-time community liaison, purchase a trailer for the radar detector, purchase computers for the after-school program at the Paducah Recreation Center, and training.
•Ordinance approved accepting the $2500 grant from the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway Foundation. No local match is required. The Foundation contributes to organizations for a variety of educational projects and programs. The funding will assist the Paducah Police Department in providing the Junior Citizens’ Police Academy twice a year to area youth ages 13 to 17. The Junior CPA is a three day academy that includes classroom lectures and hands-on activities. The first Junior CPA was held July 2012. The next Junior CPA class is tentatively scheduled for mid-June 2013.
•Ordinance introduced (vote Nov. 20) for the purchase of a front loading refuse collection truck from McBride Mack Sales, Inc. of Paducah in the amount of $223,696.19.
•Ordinance introduced (vote Nov. 20) for the contract between the City of Paducah and Peel & Holland pertaining to the administration of the City’s health insurance. The contract amount is for $65,000 with additional fee of $200 per hour subject to a minimum retainer of $5000 for services requested by the City or the City’s legal counsel for issues that arise in connection to employee bargaining, legal matters, disputes, etc.
•Ordinance introduced (vote Nov. 20) to accept the $37,000 grant from the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security for the purchase of up to 14 hand-held radios for the Paducah Police Department. No local match is required.
•City Manager Jeff Pederson says the Parks Department hopes to bring a contract for the Noble Park Swimming Pool Renovation Project before the City Commission at its next Tuesday meeting.