Paducah leaders discuss proposed $67 million budget

PADUCAH — Paducah city leaders met Wednesday evening to discuss the proposed $67 million budget for fiscal year 2020, which begins July 1.

City Manager Jim Arndt presented the budget proposal before Mayor Brandi Harless and the Board of Commissioners during a workshop at city hall. Arndt said the proposal, which is balanced, includes nearly $36 million for the general fund for maintenance and operation. It also includes more than $9.6 million for capital improvement projects.

The money would be allocated in the following ways:

— $620,000 to the City Manager’s Office for major redevelopment projects and enterprise resource planning implementation.
— $36,500 to create a new Customer Experience Department (which includes $21,500 in grants).
— $556,105 to the E911 division for equipment and an equipment study.
— $3,913,800 to the Engineering – Public Works Department for the Greenway Trail, riverfront dredging, roadwork , sidewalk improvements, bridge replacements, facilities maintenance and more.
— $790,800 to the Paducah Fire Department for demolitions, training, stabilization of the Kresge building, a heavy rescue truck  and other equipment.
— $123,526 to the Information Technology Department for projects involving the geographic information system web server, Wi-Fi hotspots, and the email exchange server.
— $1,400,800 to the Parks and Recreation Department for various community celebrations, Noble Park’s peck addition nature area, the park master plan, signs, the design of a sports complex, the rehabilitation of sports fields, and various equipment.
— $711,535 to the Planning Department for roof stabilization, downtown businesses and art, implementation of the bike plan, neighborhood improvements, Midtown Alliance service project and other efforts.
— $552,120 to the Paducah Police Department for in-car camera replacement and vehicles.
— $25,000 to the rental fund for Market House restroom renovations.
— $899,800 for solid waste projects, including compost building replacement, expanding the compost production area, residential rollouts, commercial dumpsters and other equipment.

Talking with Local 6 before the workshop, Arndt mentioned the sidewalk improvements in particular, saying the budget proposal would put “sidewalks where there’s none now, creating new sidewalks, creating those linkages.”

Arndt said another priority is the possibility of building a sports complex, the design phase of which the budget proposal allocates $750,000 for.

“We’re looking at the possibility of ball diamonds, new quadplexes, within Stuart Nelson Park. That’s just a possibility,” said Arndt. “We’re also looking at the construction, the design and construction of the indoor aquatic facility with some recreation elements as well. And of course, the place for that is to be determined. Looking for potentially downtown, riverfront, Bob Noble Park.”

The goal is to bring more athletic competitions to Paducah.

“Well, I think it’s quality of life. I think that we have a wonderful community here. We shine on so many stages. And one thing that we are not up to speed yet is our recreation when it comes to hosting those quality baseball and softball tournaments,” said Arndt.

Arndt said a challenge is the increasing cost of pensions. As a result, the new budget proposal is slightly smaller than the previous budget. The proposal does account for the 12% increase in annual pension contributions to the state.

In addition, the budget proposal includes money for outside agencies, like the National Quilt Museum and the Carson Center. It also includes a 4% increase in property taxes.

Arndt said he will take the feedback from Wednesday night’s budget workshop to make any necessary tweaks. An initial reading will take place on June 11, and city leaders will decide whether to approve the proposal on June 25.

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