McCracken County Judge-Executive Craig Clymer spoke to both Paducah Rotary and Kiwanis clubs at the Carson Center Wednesday, as the two came together for their annual pre-Thanksgiving luncheon.
In his opening remarks he asked those in attendance, "What do you want your county to be or, in another way, what do you want from your county?
"Do you want them to operate at sort of a minimum level and not to aggressively seek to improve the county -- no increase in sports facilities, no increase in the quality and maintenance of the roads, other infrastructures and maintain the status quo? Or do you want the county to be more aggressive to seek out opportunities, create better living conditions, develop attractions and more opportunities for both children and adults to use and enjoy county properties?"
In his opinion, over the last few years the county has mostly maintained the status quo.
"That's changed. The fiscal court is aggressively seeking to make McCracken County better," he said, attributing the change to current county commissioners and leadership.
In order to improve sports facilities in the county, Clymer said, the county recently created the McCracken County Sports Commission. The commission will benefit from the transient room tax, a tax paid by guests who stay at local hotels and motels.
Clymer said county leaders continue to ask themselves, "What can we do to make McCracken County a better and more enjoyable place to live?" But "the big question," he said, "(is) how do we pay for it?"
The county is facing a budget shortfall, Clymer noted. The current reserve fund sits at about $2.5 million, which has a seen a $5 million decrease over the last 10 years and a 40% decrease in the last four years, he said.
Clymer cited several reasons for the shortfall, including overcrowding at the McCracken County jail, mismanagement of the tax rolls by the former Property Valuation Administrator, and the state pensions crisis.
"Pension costs are through the roof and going skyward," Clymer said. "We now have a newly-elected Democratic governor and super majority Republican legislature, and hopefully they can come together for the good of the commonwealth and fix the pension problem."
The McCracken County Fiscal Court has been looking at a variety of revenue sources to help offset the shortfall.
In September, the county voted to reinstate its inventory tax, but businesses won't see their first bill until 2020. Other possible revenue sources the county has discussed is a tax on insurance premiums, similar to the city's 6% tax, and, during his Wednesday speech, Clymer also mentioned an increase of the county's income tax is also being considered.
Clymer noted the last time McCracken County saw an income tax rate increase was in the mid-1980s.
"And people want to know why we don't have this or that," he said. "We are going be seriously looking at creating some revenue."