As the Paducah City Commission prepares for tonight's first reading of the fiscal 2015 budget, it will increase its contribution to the arts and reduce the amount available for repainting the steam locomotive on Water Street.
The commission agreed to lower the allocation for the train by $30,000, leaving $50,000 in the budget for repainting. The difference will be added to the arts consortium.
In the draft budget, the city was slated to contribute $125,000 to the Unified Arts and Culture Organizations, which include the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, the River Discovery Center (formerly known as the River Heritage Museum), Market House Theatre, Yeiser Art Center, the Carson Center, the National Quilt Museum and Maiden Alley Cinema.
Together, the consortium requested $191,000 from the city in the next fiscal year. Both Mayor Gayle Kaler and Commissioner Sandra Wilson advocated an increase in the city's contribution for the arts.
"One of the best ways to increase traffic is marketing all our special places downtown," Kaler said.
"Not only will it bring people downtown," Wilson added, "it will bring people to Paducah."
Wilson acknowledged that she worked as a volunteer on many of the organizations' boards.
With the increase, the seven agencies will receive a total of $155,000. Funds are divided among the group through a formula based on their economic impact and the number of jobs they created.
"I think the funds are justified," said Commissioner Richard Abraham. "These groups are very functional and very responsible. They are a catalyst to draw people to downtown."
The locomotive repainting project was previously budgeted for $80,000, which was based on an estimate from a company in Stearns. The project has not yet been bid.
While $50,000 remains for that project, Kaler and city commissioners are looking for less costly alternatives.
In an earlier meeting, Commissioner Allan Rhodes objected to the large expense.
"Understand that I want it done," he said. "I just want it done as efficiently as we can."
The commission made the final changes to the draft budget during last Tuesday's meeting.
The first reading of the budget ordinance will be introduced by the commission tonight.
Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.