Fiscal court wants to meet with city officials over 911, sports complex

Judge-Executive Craig Clymer (right) talks about his wish to negotiate with city officials over a shared financial burden for 911 service and the proposed sports complex. Commissioner Eddie Jones (left) and the other commissioners spoke on their similar wish to gather with city officials in a joint meeting.

The McCracken County Fiscal Court tackled two topics it wants to discuss with city officials — an improved 911 system and the proposed sports complex — at its meeting Monday at the McCracken County Courthouse.

Both are major projects the county would like to share expenses with the city. Paducah and McCracken County leaders met in May and discussed the proposed sports complex project.

The complex, involving the former Bluegrass Downs site and Stuart Nelson Park, has a projected cost of more than $40 million, while the 911 project had an estimated cost of between $8 million and $14 million, according to a 2017 study. The city and county are currently waiting for an updated report from Federal Engineering Inc. regarding the 911 system’s costs, options and needs.

“I talked with (Paducah) Mayor (George Bray on Monday) morning and I talked with him last week at least once if not a couple of times, trying to see if we could come to some understanding, at least, in general terms,” said Judge-Executive Craig Clymer. “These two projects — the sports complex and 911 — are essentially unrelated, with the exception that the city and the county are interested in them and, of course, each costs money.

“The city has acknowledged the value of the sports complex to the city, county and the region, and is considering to be 50-50 partners with the county on the design, development, operation and all aspects of the sports park.”

Clymer said the city has requested that upgrades to Stuart Nelson Road be added to the project, what he noted would be an estimated $2 million.

“The county has some concerns about adding that to the project,” Clymer said. “That would be a 5% or thereabouts addition to the cost of the project and the fact that it’s a city street and it’s not been included in the project.

“Also, of course, being a city street, it has benefits to businesses — current and future — that are along that route, that road, that are of no benefit to the county.”

Despite that, Clymer said he would make an effort to get the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to provide the funding for upgrading that road.

Clymer said he believed — “rightly or wrongly” — that a few weeks ago, the city was on the verge of agreeing to be 50-50 partners in the sports complex project.

“In the last few days, it’s taken a bit of a turn,” he said. “The city seems to be suggesting that they need the county to be full partners — committed to being full partners — on the 911 before they can be committed to being partners on the sports complex.

“…The requirement for the commitment to 911, however, is going to be difficult because of the complexities, the unknowns about how the 911 would develop: the unknown variables — how it would operate, how it would be funded. Without that knowledge at this time, I think the city and the county can’t really do more than just make a somewhat educated guess about what might develop.”

Clymer said the two entities can commit to a spirit of mutual benefit and cooperation, moving forward with research on 911 operations and equipment and how it may be funded.

“Without such a commitment to cooperation, the sports complex, apparently, is going to sit still,” he said. “Our kids will continue to play soccer on a landfill, and the creation of a really outstanding economic development engine just sits idle out there.”

Clymer and each of the commissioners spoke of the hope of having a joint meeting with the city commission at a day and time apart from the entities’ regular meeting times.

“I would like to discuss and propose that we can come to some agreement that we can express to the city our genuine desire to explore a partnership with the city on 911 with a goal toward agreement and mutual benefit, work through our differences, make decisions together for the welfare of our city and county residents, knowing that the city residents are within the county, so we are responsible to the city residents as well,” Clymer said.

“It’s my hope that by showing a sincere intent to cooperate with the city on this, it will ease their concerns about being partners with us on the sports complex which, again, is unrelated.”

Clymer said he understood that some of the city’s concerns with a partnership related to the county not yet paying its share of the Regional Development Agency Assistance Program funding, known as RDAAP, into the Paducah-McCracken County Industrial Development Authority.

The RDAAP was established in 2018 by the Kentucky legislature as a means of disbursing Tennessee Valley Authority in-lieu-of tax revenue to Kentucky counties that have TVA property. The RDAAP consists of a system of grants to county agencies using that revenue.

“I think we all know that we don’t sit on that money,” Clymer said. “We can’t just write that check. What we have to do — and what I explained to the mayor — was that the state Department of Local Government is the depository of that money and we have to go to them with a project.

“We have done that just recently. We went to the Department of Local Government, said ‘Here is our project. We want to pay that’ — it was up to $164,000 (for debt service on a property at 401 Kentucky Ave.). That’s the process we have to go through. I think some of the city folks did not understand that and wondered why we had not followed through with our commitment.”

In other business:

• The fiscal court approved a payment of $12,550 to Eric Henn to pay the balance of his invoice for painting the “United We Stand” mural on the water tower in Reidland along Interstate 24 West. A payment of $12,300 was also approved to Mid-South Tank Consultants for preparation for the mural. Clymer emphasized that all of the funding for the mural came from private donations.

• The fiscal court approved the second reading on the 2021-22 budget ordinance. The budget was set at $42.23 million.

• The fiscal court approved the first reading of an ordinance that allows up to three lots to share a privately established and maintained drive or roadway.

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