The Greater Paducah Economic Development board will meet Monday to discuss the latest service agreement proposal from McCracken County, which still seeks to have a county commissioner placed on the GPED board.
The called meeting is in response to a revised service agreement between the two entities the McCracken County Fiscal Court approved Monday night. That version of the agreement, while still calling for a commissioner to be a part of the 10 (voting) member economic development board, does not include the provision that the county would pay an additional $50,000 annually to support GPED, in addition to the $250,000 the county pays annually.
The proposal also includes the provision that GPED provide detailed quarterly updates on its activities, including successful and unsuccessful efforts, reported strengths and weaknesses of the local economy, and necessary improvements to create additional marketing strength of the local economy.
The revised service agreement was approved by a 3-1 vote with commissioners Eddie Jones, Bill Bartleman and Jeff Parker in favor and Judge-Executive Craig Clymer, who also sits on the GPED board, dissenting.
Following the initial revised proposal put forth by Jones, Glen Anderson, GPED board chair, indicated a reorganization last April to reduce the overall number of members and develop an investor council to draw from were positive steps. He also said a provision in the current bylaws which ensure the Paducah mayor and fiscal court judge-executive are members is sufficient to provide input to the public bodies and that all board members have the best interests of the community in mind.
"It (revised proposal) does not change my position," Anderson said. "However, it's a board decision and so we'll convene and let our board review the service agreement, discuss it and decide how we want to respond.
"I can't predict the outcome, but our board is a good board. They say and do the right thing for the right reasons."
The fiscal court also did not approve GPED's second quarter allocation of $62,500 at its meeting Monday, indicating a payment can't be made without an agreement in place.
That decision to withhold funding is a disappointment, according to Anderson, "but I don't think it's going to impact us that greatly in the immediate future. GPED is an institution that tries to handle its money wisely, and we have the capacity to function without crisis or disaster when we have interrupted funding.
"That's part of our business plan."
Jones and Bartleman worked together on the revised agreement over the weekend preceding Monday's vote. Both have indicated they feel adding a commissioner provides a greater voice for the community because of the amount of public funds involved.
In an email to Anderson and Bruce Wilcox, GPED president/CEO, Bartleman called the proposal "positive action by the commissioners" and "not a reflection of any negative feelings or lack of confidence in either of you or the restructured board."
According to Bartleman, "The public reaction to our sincere and thoughtful attempt to expand and improve cooperation has been positive. Your approval of the agreement will add to the public's confidence.
"Failure to approve it without a valid reason will create a deadlock that will be difficult to resolve."
Clymer said he believes the county is adequately represented with him serving on the GPED board, and while he disagreed with the fiscal court's approval of the service agreement, "it's the fiscal court's decision. That's the way we operate."
The judge-executive said he has concerns about the possible impact of withholding funds from GPED.
"I'm just so proud of the team we've put together, and I think we're making huge strides forward. I think it's a knock back," he said.
However, he indicated he thinks the issues between the two entities can be worked out.
"We're all professionals. We all have the same mission and that is to do what's best for the county and the area, particularly the creation and maintenance of jobs," he said.
He referred to disagreements along the way toward that mission as "bumps in the road. I don't think it's going to be something we can't resolve."