The city of Paducah made big steps Tuesday in development of an estimated $20.3 million indoor aquatic and recreation center at Bob Noble Park.
It introduced ordinances related to funding the project, which is a planned two-story 60,000 square-foot facility that will feature indoor aquatic amenities, indoor walking track amenities, meeting space and more, according to City Manager Jim Arndt. The chosen site is Noble Park off Park Avenue.
"We're looking for some very innovative ideas to put in there," Arndt said, after Tuesday's meeting. "One of the things we're (considering) right now is, of course, water slides, the flumes -- we're looking at play structures, aquatic and nonaquatic. We're looking for a rock-climbing wall that extends from one floor through the second floor, so it's really exciting times."
However, Arndt said there's still a long way to go and it'll be under design for a few more months. In August, the city approved an agreement with Nashville-based Lose Design for design and construction management services.
"We're hoping to be able to go out for bid the summer -- early summer/late spring of 2020 and then, of course, be under construction the fall of 2020," he added.
Earlier, the Paducah City Commission took two actions that concerned funding.
It introduced an ordinance amendment to raise the city's insurance premium tax from 6% to 7%, which if approved, would take effect July 1, 2020, and garner approximately $700,000 in annual revenue.
"The insurance premium tax is paid by anybody who has an insurance premium, so basically if you have homeowner's insurance, fire insurance, health insurance, life insurance -- in your premium payments, there's a tax in there," Arndt explained. "It's insurance premium tax in the commonwealth of Kentucky."
According to city documents, this additional revenue will be used to cover a portion of annual debt service related to construction of the facility. The city wouldn't receive revenue from the new tax until October 2020.
Commissioner Brenda McElroy expressed excitement for the facility and thinks it's a "great economic incentive" for when the community looks to attract people to come to Paducah.
"We need to be more active," she said. "We need to give kids better opportunities. We need places for therapy for some of us, as we're getting older, that is healthy like water aerobics and swimming. … We've got a swim team, where we have some great swimmers that need better facilities to practice in. It's going to have a phenomenal indoor walking track that I think a lot of people are excited about. It will be a place for the community to just come and enjoy being together."
Commissioner Sandra Wilson said the community has wanted a facility, before adding that she wished there was another way to raise funds, in reference to the proposed 1% insurance premium tax increase.
"Right now, we're very, very limited on the ways that we can raise money," she said. "Even with this, we are way under where most communities are on their insurance premium tax."
In her remarks, Mayor Brandi Harless shared insurance premium tax amounts from other Kentucky cities: Owensboro, 10%; Hopkinsville, 8.5%; Elizabethtown, 8%, Murray, 8.5%, Bowling Green, 7%; Henderson, 10%, Madisonville, 10% and Mayfield, 9%.
"We're still under most of our competitive cities," Harless said. "So, I'm proud that we can pull this off with such a small increase. Seriously, that's a big accomplishment for our team. That's for sure."
The commission also introduced an ordinance authorizing the city to issue $22,000,000 in general obligation bonds for the project. It would be a 20-year bond, if approved. The amount could be increased by up to $2.2 million or lowered by "any amount" to cover project costs, such as construction and equipping the facility.