For the first time in nearly 14 months, the McCracken County Tax Court met live and in person at the courthouse on Monday evening.
Executive Judge Craig Clymer was happy to be back in Courtroom D with his fellow tribunal members after overcoming what he hoped to be the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. after the meeting.
“It felt good. We are making progress with COVID. Things are starting to relax and people are starting to come out. It was really good to be back there. It’s a big difference between sitting in person and having a meeting and doing it virtually. “
County officials – Bill Bartleman could not attend for personal reasons – sat a safe distance away to comply with CDC regulations.
The most common meeting had a few consequential decisions.
In order to help the Paducah-McCracken County River Port apply for a Port Infrastructure Development Program grant to expand parts of the bulky and revitalize existing equipment, the court approved $ 100,000 in funds from counterpart if the river port received the subsidy. This project and this grant of approximately $ 3 million would also require the city of Paducah to commit $ 100,000 in matching funds.
Treasurer Pam Thompson has been approved to ask for the release of McCracken County funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, for which the portal was opened on Monday. The county, it is estimated, will receive about half of the $ 12.8 million originally planned from the federal relief act – about $ 6.4 million – to invest in industries, projects and people financially affected by COVID-19.
“I think it will only be half. That’s what they said it was going to be, but we won’t really know until we get there and hit the button, ”said Thompson.
Exactly how these funds will be used is up in the air, and that could be a number of things, said Steve Ervin, manager of the community development project.
“There seems to be a lot of flexibility there. They don’t come out with direct advice on what you can and what you can’t use it for, but obviously I think the project must be related to something that has been impacted by COVID-19. For example, tourism, we know tourism has been affected by (it). “
Clymer, if he had his druthers, would like to devote the majority of those funds to Greenway Sports, the sports complex his administration has been striving to provide to the community for the past year.
“We have yet to decide that, but I’m pretty convinced that we have to devote the vast majority to the sports complex, assuming the city will join us as 50-50 partners,” Clymer said in an interview after the meeting. . “I know they see the wisdom of how valuable this could be to our community, they’re just trying to find their way to a fair decision about what to fund and what not to.
“This will obviously help us build this complex.”
Budget estimates for the sports complex, which will be located in the former Bluegrass Downs facility, have reached $ 44 million. The city has not committed any funding for the project to date.
Additionally, April’s transitional room tax dollars – totaling $ 293,009.69 – have been split. The Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau raised $ 86,257.55, the McCracken County Sports Tourism Commission raised $ 88,999.81, the Paducah-McCracken County Convention & Expo Center received $ 58,420.95 and $ 59,331.38 were put into the escrow fund.
The entire tax court meeting can be viewed on the McCracken County Tax Court YouTube account.
In other court events, Clymer responded to former Paducah City Commissioner Gerald Watkins, stating his intention to run for executive judge in 2022, telling The Sun he intended to ask for re-election.
Watkins and Clymer have known each other for decades and the Executive Judge was genuinely surprised by last Thursday’s announcement.
“We’re doing everything we can think of to make the community a better place and when I go out – whether it’s on purpose or get fired by someone else – I want to be sure we’ve done everything we do.” could to improve the county, and hopefully people can see that, ”Clymer said. “I want to finish the airport terminal and the sports complex. I want to be there as an executive judge when this thing is open and going. I am very passionate about it.
“I can’t live with a halfway bailout on these things, so I’m running for re-election and we’ll see if people think I’m doing a good job or not. Otherwise, they can vote me. “
The next McCracken County Tax Court meeting will be on May 24.