City Commission Meeting Highlights for May 28, 2019

Amend Human Relations Ordinance (Chapter 58 of Paducah Code of Ordinances)

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.


New Day Initiative and Permitting Solutions

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:

  • Kick-Start Meetings (beginning this July): Great projects start with bringing the right people together early in the process to answer questions, set clear expectations, and assist individuals and businesses who are starting a new project.
  • User’s Guide (expected completion in September):  A user’s guide is a great way to share consistent information that encompasses the entire permitting process instead of looking for the information that may be spread across different departments or multiple webpages.
  • Certificate of Occupancy Celebrations (beginning this July):  Obtaining a certificate of occupancy is one of the last steps when launching a new business.  Certificate of Occupancy Celebrations will be launched to celebrate and help promote new businesses.
  • New Technology Implementation:  The City is looking to implement an electronic plan submittal software call Bluebeam which will allow individuals and businesses to submit their plans online instead of having to physically bring them into City Hall. Plus, it will enhance and speed up the internal review process.  The City is expecting to launch the electronic plan software this summer.  The City also is looking at another software system called OpenCounter that will provide the public an online step-by-step process for project implementation and permitting.   An implementation date for OpenCounter has not been determined.

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.


Resolution to Support Fundraising Efforts for City Hall Fountain

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.


Bob Leeper Bridge Project Funding (vote June 11)

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. 


Quick Highlights:

  • Mayor Harless proclaimed June 7 as Gun Violence Awareness Day.
  • Senator Danny Carroll and State Representative Randy Bridges attended the meeting and provided the Board an update about the economic health of Kentucky by providing some positive statistics.  They also talked about the pension crisis.
  • Cindy Toon representing VFW Auxiliary Post 1191 discussed the VFW Family Freedom Festival.
  • Approval of the joint appointment of Glenn Denton to the Paducah-McCracken County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • Municipal Order approved authorizing the agreement with HDR Engineering, Inc. in an amount of $65,200 for professional services to include grant writing assistance, benefit cost analysis, and environmental site assessment as the City pursues a BUILD grant application with the Riverport through the U.S. Department of Transportation.  BUILD is the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development which supports transportation infrastructure projects.  Paducah’s grant project includes the Paducah Riverfront Commons (former Executive Inn site), Steamboat Landing/Excursion Pier, and the Riverport Container Transfer Yard Development Project.  The BUILD grant application will be submitted no later than July 15.
  • Municipal Order approved authorizing the grant application in the amount of $97,000 to the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.  If awarded, the funds would be used for cameras, servers, and door access control devices for the terminal at Barkley Regional Airport.  No local match is required.
  • Municipal Order approved authorizing the grant application in the amount of $350,000 to the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.  If awarded, the funds would be used to purchase an EOD (Explosive Ordnance) robot for the Paducah Police Department.  This robot would replace an outdated robot currently owned by the Department.  No local match is required.
  • Municipal Order approved to increase the monthly user fee for customers using the City of Paducah 800 MHz radio system.  There are approximately 480 radio units in the system.  The fee increase would be effective July 1, 2020.
  • Municipal Order approved to purchase licenses to update the City’s software system from the 2010 versions of Microsoft Exchange Server and Office to the 2019 versions.  This is a $87,938.92 purchase.