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City panels urge openness, code enforcement

BY CORIANNE EGAN cegan@paducahsun.com

The Community Survey distributed one year ago is yielding results and policy suggestions, just in time for budget season.

Results from the survey, which was mailed to 1,200 Paducah citizens last February, spurred the creation of three community action committees focusing on different topics: the city's role in economic development, neighborhood revitalization and community engagement. Each committee met three times in the fall, and two of the three groups - neighborhood revitalization and community engagement - reported to the Paducah City Commission on Tuesday night.

The community engagement group boiled its goals down to three specific strategies: increasing public information, finding a way to get feedback from the community and empowering citizens to participate in conversations about local government issues. The committee's recommendations include options that keep the city more open, such as town hall meetings and increasing website traffic.

Neighborhood revitalization committee members pushed two priorities: enhanced code enforcement and attention to demolition, and streets and sidewalks. They also were looking for increased connectivity, especially for bicyclists.

In other business, the commission voted unanimously to adopt  collective bargaining agreements with the police and firefighter unions. Human resources director Cindy Medford told the commission previously that the new police contract will cost an estimated $434,000 while the firefighters' contract will cost around $378,000.

The commission also heard information from the Paducah Housing Authority and director Cal Ross. Ross presented the city's annual PILOT payment, or payment in lieu of taxes. The payment and its calculations have been the same for 63 years, Ross told commissioners before imploring them to look into changing the payment. In the past, the federal government has reimbursed the PHA with 100 percent of the PILOT payment, but budget cuts have lowered that to about 80 percent.

"The difference comes out of our operating budget, now," Ross told commissioners. "It's money we simply don't have."

Ross said he would work with the city manager to look into solutions.

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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