Fiscal Court, GPED Close to Reaching Agreement
By Easton Sanders
MCCRACKEN COUNTY - The McCracken County Fiscal Court and Greater Paducah Economic Development continued working towards an agreement during a Monday meeting.

At a McCracken County Fiscal Court meeting on November 25, commissioners had voted to present an agreement to the GPED board that would create additional seats on the GPED board which would allow one county and city commissioner to serve on the board.

At the GPED meeting on Monday, December 2, the GPED board voted unanimously against the proposal.

West Kentucky Star spoke with GPED President Bruce Wilcox, who said that although the board voted against the Fiscal Court's proposal, they were able to work out an agreement.

"The plan going forward is to have a nimble working board of 10 people, and then have subcommittees or a task force that branch off of those." Wilcox continued, "What we put in place to try to accommodate the commissioners on their wanting to be additionally involved and try to garner more information was to set up a government affairs task force that's comprised of two board members from GPED, two city commissioners, and two county commissioners. So it will be a task force of six people."

Wilcox feels positive about the plan and says he hopes to eventually bring on state representatives as well, to get some additional governmental input and influence in it as well.

County Commissioner Jeff Parker told West Kentucky Star that although he would love to have a seat on the board, compromise never hurt anybody. "we're willing to compromise, they're willing to compromise, so the task force is probably the best answer today."

When asked if he thought there could be any accountability problems with the group, Parker says he believes the language in the contract has them covered. "Part of the contract language is that if two people off the task force ask for insight into financials or anything else, they have to show them to us."

Commissioner Bill Bartlemen released the following statement on the announcement:

"The debate over commissioner representation on the GPED board has been a healthy process and it accomplished two goals. First the fiscal court made it clear to taxpayers and GPED that it wants to ensure accountability and transparency for the investment in makes in GPED. Second, GPED made it clear that its reorganization is based on a firm commitment to the mission of creating jobs, improving the economy and being accountable to all of those who invest it its organization.

It is important to give the newly-organized board and its new president an opportunity to implement its changes and demonstrate is ability to fulfill its commitment. While I continue to believe adding a commissioner to the board was a positive option, I accept the board's decision to continue with the plan as it was drafted over the past year.

The counter proposal to create a governmental affairs task force appears to be a constructive addition to the reorganization plan and hopefully is a good-faith effort to ensure the accountability and transparency that has always been the goal of the fiscal court. Although we haven't seen the counter offer in writing, it appears to give the commissioners a seat at the table to communicate with representatives of the board who make decisions and the president who carriers them out. While they communicate with us, I'm confident they will communicate any concerns or ideas that we have to the full board. I am prepared to accept this compromise and give it a chance to work. We'll review its success in June when the operating agreement will expire.

I appreciate the work and input of my fellow commissioners to be good stewards of taxpayer funds and to work in a unified way to create jobs for our citizens.

I also appreciate the hard work and dedication of the 10 members of the GPED board and offer full support to them as the carry out our joint mission of creating good paying, sustainable jobs to improve the quality of life in western Kentucky."

Commissioner Eddie Jones says that although he doesn't like the term 'Task Force', he believes it will be a positive move. "I do generally like the idea of a subcommittee that allows four commissioners, two county and two city, to have regular and routine conversations with GPED management."

The proposed new agreement is not finalized, however officials are expecting it to happen soon.

Published 10:00 PM, Wednesday Dec. 04, 2019
Updated 03:35 PM, Thursday Dec. 05, 2019

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