Paducah leaders approve $71.3 million balanced budget

City Manager Jim Arndt thanked city staff for the teamwork in crafting the budget.

PADUCAH — The Paducah Board of Commissioners approved a $71.3-million balanced budget Tuesday evening for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Mayor Brandi Harless and the four commissioners unanimously voted in favor of the budget, which includes nearly $36 million for the general fund to cover the city’s operating expenses. The budget also covers the 21 other city funds — including those related to debt, capital improvements, insurance, investment, solid waste and more.

In addition, the budget allocates about $9.6 million for capital improvement projects — including road improvements and resurfacing, sidewalk rehabilitation and enhancements, bridge replacements, sports field rehabilitation, and Parks and Recreation Department events, among many other things.

The new budget will fund equipment for first responders.

The money also funds vehicles and equipment  for city departments including police, fire and solid waste.

“The police department, of course, is very important to make sure that crime is low, making sure we’re keeping our residents safe. Fire is important to make sure we’re protecting people’s property — life and property — and making sure (they’re) able to respond. E911 is important as well to make sure those phone calls come in, we’re able to answer them and dispatch accordingly,” said City Manager Jim Arndt, who led the effort in crafting the budget. “I know we do have a few new pieces of equipment for solid waste, making sure that we’re keeping that fleet up and running, so when your trash can is on the road and overflowing, we’re there to pick it up.”

Another capital improvement project outlined in the budget is the design phase of sports recreation complexes, such as an indoor aquatic center, new soccer fields and quad plexes for baseball and softball. The budget allocates $750,000 to hire firms to create the designs.

“We’ve seen some of the good data come out of the Parks Master Plan, indicating some of the needs and desires of the community is increasing our recreational side, being able to provide services that we do not have now,” said Arndt. “And what they’re looking for is a place to have — to swim indoors. A place to have a walking track indoors, and that all goes hand in hand with the aquatic center. And then also looking at the creation of ball diamonds to have tournament-worthy competitions on.”

Arndt said the city is still looking into where the aquatic center would be, although possible locations include downtown, the riverfront or Noble Park. As for new quad plexes for softball and baseball, Arndt said the city is considering Stuart Nelson Park as a location.

Arndt said the city is already reaching out to potential designers. He expects to have a design firm in mind for the indoor aquatic center in late July. The Board of Commissioners will then vote on a contract agreement, possibly in August, Arndt said.

The city is also reaching out to firms to design the new baseball, softball and soccer fields. Arndt expects to go into contract with the chosen designer in late August or early September.

Arndt anticipates the design phase to last six to eight months.

“We’re looking to make sure that we continue to grow as a community, and we’re listening and the comments from the community are being heard,” said Arndt.

In addition, the budget includes the state-mandated 12% increase in pension contributions.

“This process (of creating the budget) in city government typically starts in January. This year, it started in August, because we knew of the pension issue and having to come up with resources that we hadn’t had to come up with before,” said Harless during Tuesday’s meeting.

To allow Paducahans to read more on the new budget, the city will post its Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Budget Book on the city website in a few weeks. In the meantime, the current year’s budget and those dating back to 2005 can be viewed at paducahky.gov/city-budget.

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