The Paducah Board of Commissioners meeting was held at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, January 12 with Mayor George Bray and Commissioners' Sandra Wilson, Raynarldo Henderson, David Guess, and Carol Gault. Also in attendance was City Manager Jim Arndt and the city clerk.
There were several items on the agenda tonight up for a vote. The first was the appointment of the Mayor Pro Tempore and various board members and reappointments. The second was the decision regarding the Lose and Associates, Inc. contract for the Indoor Recreation and Aquatic Center. Third, was the alcoholic beverage license renewal municipal order.
As expected, the commissioner with the most votes was unanimously voted in by the city commission as the Mayor pro-tem. Commissioner Sandra Wilson received the most votes in the November 2020 election. Other board appointments and various reappointments took place as well.
Next on the agenda was the decision on whether or not to continue with the design project with Lose Design for the Indoor Recreation and Aquatic Center. Last year, the project was placed on hold and a decision on how to proceed was to fall on the incoming city commission.
Discussions took place before the vote. New commissioner's Guess, Gault and Henderson all agreed the timing was off for this particular project, partially due to the effects of COVID-19. Commissioner Henderson went on to say it wasn't a concept issue but one of timing.
Commissioner Wilson said, " The Wellness Center project was affected by COVID-19. It was the hardest of times. There were major decisions that needed to be made. We had no idea what it would do to our city." Wilson said she appreciated the new direction the new commission was taking and agreed that the timing for the project wasn't good.
There was discussion about the possibility of a YMCA coming to Paducah and if this was the case, they would want to use their own design firm.
Mayor Bray said, "COVID has had an impact on this (the project). There may be opportunity to work with the Y." He said the structure would need to be totally rethought. More partners would need to be identified; those with 'skin in the game'. The city would look for the right partners going forward.
In the end, the Paducah Board of Commissioners approved the municipal order to terminate the professional design and construction management agreement with Lose and Associates, Inc. for the Indoor Recreation and Aquatic Center. The City entered into the agreement in August 2019 with the agreement paused in August 2020. Each member of the Board stated that this is not the best timing for the project.
After voting on the Aquatic Center, an emergency ordinance was introduced. The order related to the waving of fees pertaining to alcoholic license renewal. Bray said, "Paducah is known as a restaurant town." He said we want the industry to know how important they are to our community and to our economy. By waving the fees for the upcoming year it would act as a "signal from the city that these restaurants are very important to us," explained Bray.
Commissioner Henderson said, "Anything we can do to lighten the load." The Paducah Board of Commissioners approved the emergency ordinance to waive the 2021 renewal fees that are due January 31, 2021, for certain alcohol license types.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Executive Orders from the Governor’s office, many businesses were required to either close or operate at a diminished capacity with restaurants and bars seeing a substantial financial impact. The Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has allowed for a 12-month fee waiver for certain license types. This action by the City of Paducah mirrors the State’s action and provides a benefit to the businesses totaling approximately $97,000. In Paducah, 108 business which have a total of 201 licenses (some businesses have more than one license) will benefit from the renewal waiver.
Rick Murphy jumped on to discuss some of the ordinances that were inherited from the previous commission as well as the introduction of several ordinances as first time readings.
At the end of the meeting, each commissioner was asked if they had further comments. Mayor Bray discussed vaccine distribution and COVID-19. He said he gets calls everyday about the vaccine and citizens wanting to know when they would be eligible for their inoculation.
Bray said in a report today from our local health department, McCracken County has seen 4,500 positive COVID-19 cases and 75 deaths. Bray said, "I personally have lost two friends to COVID." He said the process needs to be accelerated and those over 70 years of age need to be vaccinated. Bray said that the city is willing to do whatever it takes to help. "The state of Kentucky allocates the vaccine and we're expecting more this week and next week." said Bray. He continued, "I know how important it is."