The Human Resources Department has been working to receive proposals from recruiting firms to conduct a national search for the next City Manager. At this meeting, three companies made presentations about their services. The three companies are Springsted |Waters Executive Recruitment based in Kansas City, Missouri; Strategic Government Resources (SGR) based in Keller, Texas; and GovHR USA based in Northbrook, Illinois. At the end of the meeting, the Paducah Board of Commissioners approved a motion to accept the proposal from SGR. A contract will be approved at an upcoming meeting.
The Board also approved a motion to appoint Parks & Recreation Director Mark Thompson as interim city manager effective Saturday, January 13. City Manager Jeff Pederson has declined the offer by the Board to extend his employment agreement until May 15. His final day will be this Friday.
Pederson says, “I appreciate the recent action by the City Commission to extend my employment as City Manager through May 15. It was unexpected, and in the moment, my dedication to the organization moved me to indicate that I would stay. In the time since, my wife and I have given much thought to the time extension, which has been very difficult, as I have conflicting emotions on many matters. My commitment to this organization remains steadfast, and I have continued to dedicate my full effort to the job. I have come to realize, however, that I need to apply myself to forging the next chapter in my life and career, and I need to allow myself to do so with physical strength and clarity of mind. Therefore, I have made the determination that it is not in my personal or professional best interest to remain beyond my current separation date of January 12.”
To allow for significant a public comment period regarding the ordinance to repeal and replace the Human Rights Commission ordinance (chapter 58 in the Paducah Code of Ordinances), Mayor Brandi Harless allowed approximately 45 minutes of public comments with Paducah citizens given three minutes each to voice their opinion. Fourteen people made comments either for or against the ordinance. Those in favor of the ordinance feel that there is a need to provide protections for gender identity and sexual orientation. Opponents of the ordinance claim the changes could lead to claims that businesses discriminated by denying services due to religious convictions. The ordinance was introduced at the December 12 meeting and further discussed at the December 19 meeting with citizens and organizations asking questions about the proposed ordinance. The Board voted to approve the ordinance (a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Richard Abraham voting no). Mayor Harless says, “The approval of this ordinance is a gesture of support to a community that has felt ostracized.”
Prior to the vote, Commissioner Abraham made a motion to add the following amendment to the ordinance: No business owner shall be forced to participate in any activity that violates his/her deeply held religious beliefs. The amendment did not pass with Commissioner Abraham as the only yes vote.
Some of the aspects of the new ordinance include the additions of age, gender identity, and sexual orientation to the list of unlawful discriminatory practices that are safeguarded. An additional change is the reduction in the size of the Human Rights Commission board from nine to five members with no provision for an executive director.
The changes also describe how complaints are to be handled based on the type of complaint. Complaints made to the Paducah Human Rights Commission regarding race, color, religion, sex, age, familial status, handicap, or national origin will be filed with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. Complaints associated with a grievance or unlawful practice relating to gender identity or sexual orientation will be filed with the Paducah Human Rights Commission with notification to the City Manager’s office. Since the State office does not handle complaints related to gender identity or sexual orientation, the Paducah Human Rights Commission would investigation those complaints with legal assistance as necessary.
The Paducah Human Rights Commission was established in 1968 and maintains an office on the first floor of City Hall.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance to amend Paducah’s smoking ban ordinance to continue the prohibition of smoking in enclosed public places and to extend the prohibition to all places of employment, whether public or private. The amendment to the current ordinance also would prohibit smoking in city-owned outdoor areas including playgrounds and public parks with limited exceptions. The definition of smoking also is being amended to include the use of an electronic smoking device. The definition of place of employment in the amended ordinance means an enclosed area under the control of a public or private employer, including, but not limited to, work areas, private offices, employee lounges, restrooms, conference rooms, meeting rooms, classrooms, employee cafeterias, hallways, construction sites, temporary offices, and vehicles. A private residence is not a place of employment unless it is used as a child care, adult day care, or health care facility.
After introducing the ordinance, the Paducah Board of Commissioners discussed topics including hotels that allow smoking rooms, private establishments where people pay dues for membership, and enforcement issues. At this time, no date has been announced for the second reading of the ordinance.
Paducah adopted a smoking ban ordinance in 2006. Paducah’s existing ordinance prohibits the smoking of tobacco products in buildings open to the public. Members of the McCracken County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP) have been working since 2016 to educate the community about amending the City’s ordinance to make it more of a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance. Presentations by the group were given at the August 8, 2017, and December 19, 2017, City Commission meetings.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance for a three year contract between the City and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) AFL-CIO Local 1586. Local President David Shockley and Mayor Harless signed the agreement at this meeting. The three year contract will be in effect starting July 1. Negotiations were held in December with the AFSCME membership voting to ratify the contract December 15. City employees who are members of the AFSCME union work in the Engineering-Public Works and Parks & Recreation Departments.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance to accept the modified base bid from A&K Construction in the amount of $4,293,781 for the City Hall Phase I Renovation Project. The bids were opened November 30 for the project with three contractors submitting bids. A&K submitted a bid of $4,087,400. Due to the proposed window manufacturer listed in A&K’s bid not being able to meet the Kentucky Heritage Council’s requirements since City Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, A&K had to modify its bid as allowed in the bid specifications to switch to a window manufacturer approved by the Heritage Council. The City will continue to work with the Heritage Council to determine if A&K’s original window manufacturer can be used which would decrease the bid back to the original amount. Even with this increase in the base bid from $4,087,400 to $4,293,781, A&K remains the lowest evaluated bidder. The City Hall Phase I Renovation Project includes concrete repairs and replacement, steel beam stabilization of roof cantilevers, roofing membrane and skylight replacement, exterior window and door replacement, and the replacement of HVAC source equipment.
In related business, the Paducah Board of Commissioners approved a municipal order authorizing the preparation of an application to the Kentucky Heritage Council for tax credits which would be used for the City Hall renovation project. Paducah’s City Hall is eligible for up to $400,000 in Kentucky Historic Preservation Tax Credits since it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The application is due April 29. The City hopes to receive notification about the tax credits in July.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance for a $45,900 contract with Bacon, Farmer, Workman Engineering & Testing, Inc. for engineering and design services related to Phase V of the Greenway Trail. Phase V would provide a facelift for Schultz Park and extend the trail from the Farmer’s Market area to Jefferson Street. This phase also includes landscaping and seating. The City of Paducah has $403,156 in grant funding for the Greenway Trail Phase V project.