County, school board members respond to Sansone presentation
From Local 6 at Five:
The McCracken County Public Schools Board of Education allowed retail developer Sansone Group to make a presentation on a proposed $50 million retail development project Tuesday.
Sansone Group says it can create close to 300 full-time jobs, 600 temporary construction jobs, and generate millions of dollars for the county.
The project would be a 400,000 square-foot shopping center off Olivet Church Road and U.S. 60 next to Tractor Supply. Sansone owners say the school board will be one of the biggest beneficiaries, potentially gaining $7 to $8 million in tax revenue over 20 years. The company says it has 100 percent commitment from businesses for all the spaces. But while Sansone made a presentation, it's not the presentation owners wanted to make.
With both public appeal and public dissent, Sansone Group made a presentation to the school board members and concerned citizens. People voiced concern the project was too good to be true, but Sansone Group owner Jim Sansone says the McCracken County school board really does stand to gain millions of dollars from the project.
"We'd be proud of assisting this great school district," Sansone said.
School board member Jeff Parker says the system needs money. "We're uncovering and kicking every rock to see revenue where we can raise taxes," he said.
County Commissioner Bill Bartleman says the school board has a right to listen to what Sansone Group wanted to say. But, he says, as long as Sansone Group is asking for retail incentives and TIF districts. it's not a discussion the county will have in the future.
"If the county is going to invest $3 million of tax revenue, I think it should be invested in industry that provides career path jobs," says Bartleman.
Sansone Group says it's asking for the chance to make a presentation to the county or the city.
"So the people in the community have an opportunity to hear this and weigh in on whether this is something they want to see," Sansone said.
Bartleman raised the question as to whether the $7 million would mean less money from the the state SEEK program. SEEK is a program that allocates state money to deserving school districts.
Sansone says the presentation at the school board wasn't the presentation his company wanted to make He said they would normally have more time and resources, which would allow them invite their experts.
From Local 6 at Six:
Sansone Group owners say they wanted to give people the opportunity to hear their proposal because both city and county leaders rejected it, but school board members are not taking a side.
Parker says the school board is looking for money anywhere it can. He says their school power bills are costing the most —around $5,000 a month for schools on Paducah Power. That's why when Sansone Group asked to make a presentation at the school board meeting, the board said yes.
Parker says the school board needs more money and could use $7 million, especially when the risk of raising taxes is a possibility that's more and more certain.
“We're getting to the point in McCracken County where we tighten, and tighten, and tighten, and we've been several years without raising taxes. And we're getting to the point where there's not a lot of tightening to do,” Parker said.
Parker says the only reason the board allowed Sansone Group to make its presentation was because it concerned a school matter: funding. The board doesn't allow just anyone to make any presentation at its meetings. As for whether the school board will take any sort of action after the meeting, Parker said no. They were viewing it as more of an informational presentation.