A graduation ceremony was held at the beginning of the City Commission meeting to recognize the participants of the inaugural class of the Paducah Citizens’ Academy. Assistant to the City Manager Michelle Smolen organized the Academy. Smolen says, “The goal of the Academy was to have two-way, face-to-face conversations between staff and the participants. We had an absolutely wonderful first class. There were 21 participants who attended eight sessions over a course of nine weeks. I have to say this class really spoiled us. They were incredibly engaged. They asked thoughtful and insightful questions.”
Academy Graduate Dr. Jay Downs Siska attended the class with his wife. They have lived in several different cities. He encourages everyone to take the class. “We have never experienced the sophistication, the intelligence, the dedication of a city staff and people like we found here.” Academy Graduate Gerald Guiling says, “I think that everyone needs to take this course if you live in the city.” Academy Graduate Ralph Young says, “If one of your goals was to raise the level of knowledge and awareness of the citizens of Paducah, you have done that.”
Commissioner Sarah Stewart Holland thanked the participants for their time. Commissioners Holland says, “I thank you for your interest and your sincerity in wanting to learn about the people who serve the city.” Commissioner Sandra Wilson says, “Thank you for having so much interest in the City of Paducah, and we hope that you will continue to be ambassadors of knowledge and continue to share your information with others in the community.” Mayor Brandi Harless thanked City Manager Jeff Pederson. Mayor Harless says, “I want to thank you, Jeff, because this is one of your visions around helping to build the trust between the citizens and our government. That is such an important relationship that we have to continue to work on.” The Citizens’ Academy will be offered again next spring. The possibility of holding the Academy this fall also is under consideration.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance for the Fiscal Year 2018 City of Paducah Budget. The City’s fiscal year begins July 1. The budget vote will be June 27. The City operates its finances through several funds including the general fund, investment fund, police and fire pension fund, solid waste fund, fleet lease trust fund, and health insurance trust fund. The majority of the City’s budget is in the General Fund, the City’s main operating fund. The four main sources of revenue for the General Fund are payroll tax, insurance premium tax, business license tax, and property tax.
The City is projecting an increase in revenue for this upcoming fiscal year. General Fund revenue for Fiscal Year 2018 is projected at $34.4 million. This is a 2.7 percent increase (approximately $918,000) as compared to the current year’s revenue. The increase comes from a variety of sources including the property tax and business license tax with the payroll tax forecast to be nearly half of the increase. As discussed in the May 23 budget workshop, projects that will be funded for this upcoming fiscal year include the first phase of the City Hall renovation project and the first phase of the E911 equipment replacement project. At this meeting, the Board decided to include the renovation of the Noble Park tennis courts as one of the projects funded through the Investment Fund. Discussions also were held about infrastructure improvements (streets, sidewalks, curbs, and gutters) in the Fountain Avenue Neighborhood and the possible addition of a communications position.
West Kentucky Community & Technical College Assistant Professor of Physics Dr. Victor Taveras along with Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Mary Hammond, and McCracken County Emergency Management Director Jerome Mansfield provided a preview of what to expect during the August 21 total solar eclipse. The moon is passing in front of the sun which makes the sun appear darkened. Totality begins at 1:22 p.m. and will last 2 minutes 21 seconds in Paducah. Planning is underway in several Western Kentucky counties regarding the influx of visitors expected for the solar eclipse. The main issues will be traffic and full hotel rooms. Regarding events, Paducah Parks and Main Street have a variety of events for those who arrive early. There is a Riverfront Concert on Thursday, Music in the Gazebo on Friday and Saturday nights, and a Farmers’ Market Celebration Saturday. Other organizations planning events include River Discovery Center, McCracken County Library, and Challenger Learning Center. Our region will observe another solar eclipse April 8, 2024.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners approved a municipal order that outlines the funding sources for Phase 1A of the City Hall Rehabilitation Project. The estimated project cost is $4,857,000. Funds have been identified for the project using a combination of historic tax credits (estimated at $482,435), the remaining funds from the City Hall visioning and design project with RATIO ($1,224,565), and reserve funds from the General Fund ($1,150,000) and Solid Waste Fund ($2 million). This first phase would address City Hall’s roof, canopy, furnace and air conditioning systems, windows, and façade.