May 22, 2020

Paducah after COVID-19 – Leadership Matters

No one quite knows for certain what changes will come to our lives, much less the economy of Paducah after the impact of the coronavirus crisis begins to subside.  However, we know for sure that life will be different and City revenue will be reduced. Life will evolve as we go along, and we will adjust.

How will this affect Paducah and our quality of life? 

  • Paducah is blessed in that, although we don’t reach the highest of highs in a successful economy, we generally never hit the lowest of lows in recessions. 

  • Leadership matters as we work through the challenges before us; population decline, need for more industry, better jobs, infrastructure requirements, and the ability to manage our financial resources more wisely. 

  • The city must tighten its belt and prioritize what is most important for the benefit of all citizens. 

  • The impact of the crisis will impact everyone in one way or another but certain segments of our population even greater; younger families, those living paycheck to paycheck, and those living below the poverty line. 

If it affects these segments of our city, it will indeed affect all of us.

How do we proceed?

We must pause on all major projects and prioritize the basic needs of our community. There will be plenty of time to evaluate large development projects after we have a better sense of how we will need to adjust. Now more than ever we need to stick to the basics such as stormwater infrastructure, creating sustainable jobs, promoting neighborhoods, and focus on helping to meet the real needs of the residents of Paducah.

The Aquatic Center should be canceled and although we have spent over $800,000 in design fees to date, that will pale compared to the long-term losses of this project. In business that’s called a “sunk cost” – money spent that you can’t get back but should darn well make sure it doesn’t get worse.  As Mayor I will work to minimize the impact of this sunk cost. The $20M in bond proceeds should be prudently evaluated as to how it can be best utilized for the benefit of our City.

 The City Block Project downtown will be driven by the chosen developer’s plans and the potential return on that project.  Regarding the downtown block project my stance has been clear from the beginning. We should evaluate projects that add value to our community from outside developers, but any hotel project downtown needs to be closer to the convention center leveraging the large taxpayer investment there. 

Stormwater Infrastructure is a long-term challenge for the City of Paducah and must be a higher priority. There is so much work to be done here that it will take many years to upgrade our current system. A portion of the $20M in bonds proceeds should be used to start addressing problems. The total requirements for stormwater upgrades will take a carefully thought out plan with financing that makes sense for all citizens. 

The primary election on June 23rd and the general election in November are more important than ever for the citizens of Paducah.  Now more than ever the City needs disciplined, responsible leadership. I have managed large organizations and budgets through good economic cycles and more challenging down economic cycles. I have changed poor performing teams into winners.  I have a track record and experience in leading, and in my career, there have been many times when I have led through challenges as crises occurred We tightened our belts, focused on the really important things, and came out better when it was over. Now is that time.

Leadership matters as Paducah works through life after COVID-19. A vote for George Bray is a vote for responsible leadership. I respectfully ask for your vote on June 23rd

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