Paducah City Manager Jim Arndt will not seek to renew his contract that expires June 30, 2021. The city manager told the Board of Commissioners and team leaders of his intentions this week. Arndt and other city leaders have been battling the effects of COVID-19 on city finances and controversial projects like the Paducah Aquatic Center and the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district for nearly a year.
Arndt has been city manager since July 2018 and is originally from Charleston, Illinois. His plan is to open a local government management consulting firm to be closer to his grandbabies and family.
“The dream of opening my own consulting business has been in my mind for years. I feel that I’m ready to pursue it and share with other government leaders the knowledge that I have gained while working as a professional city manager. Being a member of Team Paducah and this incredible city over the past few years has provided me with a wealth of information and experiences, best practices, and treasured memories. I will miss this warm, inviting community and the incredible city employees,” said Arndt in a news release by the city.
Mayor George P. Bray was surprised and disappointed to hear the news. Mayor Bray said, “I wish Jim and his family the best. He has clearly made an impact on Paducah, and during my first days as mayor, I have developed the utmost respect for his professionalism, positivity, and drive to excel.”
Arndt went on to say that COVID-19 has made him realize how important those special moments are with family. He and his wife Kim, would like to move back to Illinois to spend more time with the twin grandbabies.
Over the past year, the pandemic is one of several major issues facing city leaders. Coming up for a vote in the first city commission meeting of the new year is the fate of the aquatic center. The project has been on pause since July and deciding if the center will move forward or be permanently halted will be on the table.
If the aquatic center is voted down, the city will have to find a different way to invest the $20 million dollars slated for the project. Both sides, the ‘for the aquatic center’ and the ‘against the aquatic center’ have their reasons for wanting to see the project either advance or stopped.
Dr. Shiraz Patel is an orthopedist in Paducah and a volunteer coach on the Paducah Swim Team. He and others have discussed the need for a ‘YMCA” type facility for years and this was an opportunity to see it to fruition. He explained in previous interviews that a town with two major hospitals and a premier art center could benefit from the use for their ‘everyday grind.’
Those against the aquatic center would like to see the money put to use by fixing roads and infrastructure. They want the newly-elected commission to do what they said they were going to do and improve/fix the city’s stormwater problem.
Arndt has been in the storm of controversy with the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district project. TIF would allow the city to divert future property tax revenue generated within that district toward economic development projects. The agreement with Weyland Ventures of Louisville was to create a boutique motel, residential property, and commercial spaces. Those for the project see potential for economic growth and the revitalization of the downtown area. Those against say the city will be taking on more debt and the loss of parking spaces would affect city festivals. The project is currently influx.
Arndt has offered to stay after his contract ends to assist with the transition if needed. Mayor Bray added, “We will begin an immediate search for a new city manager, and Jim has committed to remain 100% engaged through July 1."