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City puts EDA funding request on hold

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By James Roberts

The local industrial recruiter's funding increase request is back on the table, but only provisionally.

In a special meeting Wednesday, Campbellsville City Council opted to include in its $15.5 million 2008-2009 budget the Campbellsville/Taylor County Economic Development Authority's request for a $50,000 annual increase. However, Council members voted to only consider the request after Taylor Fiscal Court reconsiders it in January.

Mayor Brenda Allen said "it would be up to the City Council" to decide what to do after the Fiscal Court revisits the request.

Earlier this month, magistrates were presented with two budgets to consider, one of which included the $50,000 increase in funds for EDA. Magistrates did not approve that option. Magistrate James Jones told his fellow magistrates that he was hesitant to approve the larger budget because of the uncertainty the County faces with the opening of the Taylor County Detention Center.

The City Council first considered the EDA's request in April.

In a letter to Allen, EDA Board Chairman Mark Johnson asked for an additional $50,000 from both City and County governments for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

Currently, the City and County each contribute $100,000 annually to EDA. The funds come from occupational taxes. However, the contribution hasn't changed since Team Taylor County, which houses the EDA, was formed a decade ago.

"In order to stay competitive and effective in our operation, we are requesting an additional $50,000 from each entity for the 2008-2009 budget period," Johnson stated.

In addition, Johnson asked the City and County to consider funding the EDA with a percentage of the occupational tax funds rather than a set dollar amount. This, he stated, would allow the EDA to remain properly funded in the future.

Johnson stated in his letter that all of the increase would be dedicated to debt service and improvements for the Heartland Commerce and Technology Park.

On Friday, Team Taylor County Executive Director Ron McMahan said he is pleased the request is being considered.

At the special meeting, some Council members were upset that they hadn't received a budget from the EDA, which the Council had requested a couple of months ago.

McMahan said EDA is working on the budget now and can't send the Council an incomplete budget. The draft budget is expected to be approved by the EDA Board next month, McMahan said, and will be sent to the City and County at that time.

"They get a budget every year, every June," McMahan said.

McMahan has told the News-Journal before that the EDA is under-funded compared with neighboring counties. If the funding increase isn't granted, McMahan said the EDA Board will just have to keep asking.

That said, McMahan said the EDA understands that the City and County budgets are tight.

"We can only do what we can with what we have," McMahan said.

A complete story on the City's budget will follow the Council's final approval at a special meeting tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council room above Campbellsville Police Department.

Also on Wednesday

- The Council voted to sell three tracts of land, formerly known as Green River Oil Co. Two tracts will be sold to Cook Rental for $37,000 and one tract will be sold to Paul Johnson for $7,551.

- The also instructed City Attorney John Bertram to begin negotiations with an unnamed bidder on the Merchants Hotel.

- Staff Writer James Roberts can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 226 or by e-mail at writer@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.