After hearing from 20 members of the public who were provided three minutes each to speak their views of the human relations ordinance and the recent introduced amendment, the Paducah Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance amending Chapter 58 of the Paducah Code of Ordinances related to Human Relations. The amendment passed with a 4 to 1 vote with Mayor Pro Tem Richard Abraham voting no. The approved amendment is as follows:
It is the intent of the City Commission that all sections of this Ordinance shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with KRS 446.350, which provides as follows: “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s freedom of religion. The right to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be substantially burdened unless the government proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A “burden” shall include indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.”
Prior to the meeting, Abraham asked that the ordinance amendment he introduced at the May 21 meeting be deleted from the agenda.
City Clerk Lindsay Parish provided an overview to the Board of Commissioners of the New Day Initiative with includes solutions to improve the permitting process for the public. A New Day is the title of a group of initiatives developed by an internal taskforce of Parish, Fire Chief Steve Kyle, and Business Systems Analyst Emma Shaw. In November 2018, the taskforce began reviewing the City’s internal permitting processes to determine improvements to become more customer friendly for citizens and businesses. The three key areas of focus are communication, consistency, and culture. Parish said, “The experience people have with the city impacts how they feel toward their community as a whole.”
One of the main changes is the creation of a new department dedicated to enhancing customer experience. The Customer Experience Department will be led by Parish with the addition of three existing employees who will be stationed at the entrance of City Hall. This department will have the responsibilities of helping the public obtain a permit, gathering citizen feedback, conducting follow-up calls and meetings, and working to make sure people feel appreciated. The mission of the Customer Experience Department is as follows: to revolutionize Paducah by placing citizens at the center of every decision. Parish then outlined the Department’s five values: accessible information, fostering empathy, open communication, supporting journeys, and citizens at the center. Mayor Brandi Harless said, “I love your phase about what can the government look like with citizens at the center.”
Parish then spent time explaining some of the permitting solutions that the taskforce recommends. Parish said that permitting is inherently complex and is arguably the most challenging aspect of local government for cities across the nation. It spans multiple departments, multiple fields of expertise and multiple code sections, and has no centralized champion. Some of the initiatives that will be implemented to improve the permitting process in Paducah are as follows:
Parish ended the presentation with a request for the public to help the City by providing feedback on these new initiatives and suggestions of other ways to improve our processes. City Manager Jim Arndt said that an event will be held June 28 to celebrate the launch of the New Day initiatives. Arndt said, “We want the community come out and visit with us and realize that change has occurred.” Stay tuned for more details about the event.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners approved a resolution in support of the Paducah Civic Beautification Board’s (CBB) efforts to raise money to restore a fountain feature in the atrium of City Hall. City Hall recently underwent a more than $4 million rehabilitation. However, the fountain, which has not been operational for several years, was not included in the rehabilitation project. City Hall is listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. The sculpture in the center of the atrium was created by artist James Garner and was paid for by the Civic Beautification Board in 1964.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance to approve moving $80,000 from the General Fund Reserve to the Bob Leeper Bridge Project. This pedestrian bridge over Perkins Creek just northwest of the Stuart Nelson ball fields would link the City’s Greenway Trail to the McCracken County Trail System. The project is funded in part by a $100,000 Recreation Trails grant in addition to a commitment of $30,000 from the McCracken County Fiscal Court. Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership (FRNP) has committed to donating $30,000. Furthermore, two of FRNP’s subcontractors, Veolia and Geosyntec, are providing a total of $5,000 each. The project is estimated to cost $250,000. This proposed bridge would be approximately 110 feet long and 10 feet wide. It would follow an abandoned rail bed of the Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans Railroad Company.