Thursday, January 28, 2016

PSAD Paducah School of Art and Design

PSAD  Paducah School of  Art and Design

While this blog post may be brief, I just had to share the “crown jewel” in the PSAD Campus, the 2D and Graphic Design Building.  I am neither an architect nor a contractor, but I came away from my tour with an appreciation of good old-fashioned American craftsmanship.   It was industrial art in my eyes.  Specifically, it is the attention to detail in which the heating and air-conditioning system along with the electrical layout are just there to be appreciated.

Seriously, there is something about the art of all that HVAC/electrical “stuff” that is usually covered by so many ceiling tiles.  Yes, it is new and shiny, but it is the care, the way it was put into the ceiling of the building that just blew me away.  Really.  When you see long runs of silvery electrical conduit that are perfectly spaced, each run parallel to the next, it is impressive.  When those long runs curve in graceful arcs that they themselves are in perfect alignment, there is art going on.  At least to my eyes.  The “flat oval” shaped HVAC conduit is far away from the usual spiral wound duct that is often the norm.  Look closely at the way it is attached, and fine detail is there to appreciate.  No plumber’s strap here.  Stainless steel multi stranded wire carefully angled for strength and athletics is evident.

There are lots of really cool features in this renovated building, from earthquake strengthening to reuse of the wood from a hundred year old building, to white boxed walls.  It is all there in harmony.  But this Wednesday, it was all that “art and design” in the uncovered ceiling that did it for me.

Now go see what excites you in PSAD’s “crown jewel” at 9th and Harrison.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

I Just Don't Get It.

What am I missing in wanting the McCracken County Fiscal Court to allow use of the Transient Room Tax to pay for moving the dome, and later, for other scheduled renovations to the Convention/Expo Center?

Here are the facts:

The purpose of the Transient Room Tax, which is paid by those who stay in our hotels, is to pay for tourist related activities. Hence the dome relocation would be covered.

The Convention Center through the City will honor its contract to provide the dome space for the Quilt Show.  Quilts are what we are.

The City will bond the money to move the dome.  The fiscal obligation to repay the bond will be on City taxpayers if the Transient Room Tax falls short of what is needed to pay the bonds, not on County taxpayers.

The budget estimates for the bond payments were based on the Transient Room Tax growing at 3% per year.  The Transient Room Tax had an annual growth of 4.4% in 2012, 9.3% in 2013 and 12.2% in 2014.  The conservative growth projections of 3% to pay for the bonds through the Transient Room Tax certainly look, well, conservative.

The City will cover any shortfall on the operation of the dome for the Quilt Shows, as we have in past years.  Again, the fiscal obligation is on City taxpayers, not on County taxpayers.

So here is what I don’t get. Why can’t the Fiscal Court vote to let the Transient Room Tax be used to pay for the dome relocation instead of putting the entire burden on City taxpayers.  Remember, we City taxpayers are also County taxpayers.  And voters.

Tell me we are not shipwrecking a sound financial plan on the rocks of just politics.

Hoping for a Happy New Year.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Its Beauty is on the Inside.

I’m going to get this out there on the front end; people who spend the nights in our hotels should pay for the Dome relocation.

Let me explain as simply and briefly as I can.  As you know there is always a Transient Room Tax wherever you stay in a hotel.  This tax is 6% in Kentucky.  3% to the Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1% to the operation of the Convention/Expo Center and 2% to the debt service of convention facilities in the downtown area.  Not including the three announced new hotels, the Transient Room Tax is growing at 3% per year, and that is a very conservative number.

We are not going to water last year’s crops on what might have been.  What do we know today?  Paducah has a contract for adequate Quilt Show space. The April Quilt Show is 5 months distant.  Quilters love the Dome. I am committed to the Quilt Show. Kentucky Tourism Department numbers put the tourism dollars at north of $25 million dollars from visitors representing 46 of our 50 states.  You may also throw in 10 foreign countries.  However, the Convention/Expo Center is far from having a “no space available” sign out the rest of the year.

I’m pretty sure you like my fiscally conservative ways.  I haven’t gone off the rails on this one, I assure you.  The Convention Center Board has voted to accept the Dome.  This is a more fiscally conservative step than contracting for building out the old “Showroom” Lounge at a cost of up to $6 million depending on level of finish.  Now, the McCracken County Fiscal Court has to allow the Transient Room Tax to pay for three bonds to make this happen.  Briefly, these bonds will pay for relocation the Dome in 2016.  In 2020, bonds will be used for Convention Center upgrades, and bonds in 2023 will do additional Convention Center upgrades   The Transient Room Tax will pay off the bonds in 2032. 

The Convention Center has a contract to provide convention space, meaning the city is obligated to pay for the relocation expense.  But why not let the Transient Room Tax, a tax that is paid by non-residents, pay for the Dome relocation.  I’m asking the Fiscal Court to vote yes, to help the Convention Center Board to get this done.  

This is the real beauty of the Dome.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Wolf by its ears…..adios

I don’t why I’m even writing about the Schultz Park, a.k.a. bump out, rock pile, and other pejoratives.  I’m pretty sure the vote this Tuesday night will be another 4 to 1 vote to spend the $3 million to more or less finish the Schultz Park and appliances (340 foot dock, potable water, fueling and electrical power outlets) for the transient boaters.  All 698 of them.

Not that any commissioners are listening, but we could spend the proposed $240,000 finishing the park area which is O.K. since there is already a lot of Paducah dollars sunk in it.  I know the Schultz Park only spending would benefit the most Paducahans by skipping some $2.75 million that would go to the vanishingly small number of boaters who will actually use the dock and its appliances.

The dock, water, electrical and fueling could be deferred.  The 12 black steel pipes could stay and when money allows, then build out the aforementioned dockage and appliances.

I know, that the landside area between the new Holiday Inn Hotel and the Schultz Park will have to be addressed. I know it cannot stay as a blasted out debris field. I know the spending on Schultz Park is not about the landside park. I know the money not spent doing the dock and all its appliances in Schultz Park could be a partial payment on the landside park area.  My guess is that savings would cover about 30% of the total park build out or nearly 50% of a more basic park.

As Pat Ranval said in a letter to the editor in the Sunday Paducah Sun,” It is time to reimagine the strategy.”

The thing is, we can’t have everything that glitters, we just can’t. 

Well, here’s to the third and final 4 to 1 vote unless you all can persuade two other “yes” commissioners to vote “no” with me.

Interestingly, the rock pile has become very much my shadow.  I’ll miss my shadow.  Well, not really.

Friday, July 3, 2015

You just don’t incentivize retail jobs. Sorry.

First, I have no axe to grind about Menards. They have been an Indy 500 sponsor during the “stock block” Buick engine cars, and I am a car guy, so, I like Menards.

Let’s try to wade into this without getting too wet.

Paducah needs jobs to grow--I get that.  But we need to grow sustainable wage jobs, and if I am going to spend city dollars, then I choose to bring higher wage jobs.  We simply do not have the luxury of an unlimited amount of incentive dollars to spread around.

There is a lot of discussion about T.I.F. (tax increment financing) being used to get a Menards.  Here is what I think is the key to using T.I.F. from my study on the Kentucky League of Cities website.  “But for” is the key in my mind.  Meaning that the project would not exist “but for” this type of financing.  T.I.F. must meet one of several thresholds, all based around redeveloping an economically deprived area.  Hence the “but for.”  I cannot make a case for the mall area as being an economically deprived area.  I just can’t.

Just so you know, when Lowes, Walmart, and Home Depot came to the mall area they built the access roads leading to their stores as part of their commitment to Paducah, not the other way around.

Then there is the “moral hazard” of incentivizing one retail chain over others.  Sort of like picking winners and losers.  I can’t justify this.  And let’s be deadly honest.  Will the addition of these new stores bring in additional business or will business simply be taken from the existing businesses?   My guess is there will be some additional business, but they will be much redistribution of the business already here.  But again, we will have given a competitive advantage to one group over others. 

My business sense is that if a national retail chain wants to have a presence in the tri-state area, then they will build stores in Cape, Marion-Carbondale, and Paducah.  My bet is that they will come here, to Paducah, incentive or not.  My business sense also is that some business people want to extract every nickel out of the deal to fatten their balance sheet.  I just don’t want it to be our nickel.

Well, those are my thoughts on this deal.  I’m doing the best I can for all of us.