Friday, November 18, 2016

EDA and Versailles want to cut job-recruitment expense 29% but have Midway pay one-third of budget

By Marissa Beucler
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway is being asked to pay more than five times as much as it does now for the agency that recruits jobs for the city and the rest of Woodford County.

The Woodford County Economic Development Authority and the city of Versailles proposed this week that Midway’s annual contribution to the EDA rise to $26,884 from current $5,000.

Versailles and Woodford County each contribute $22,500 a year to EDA, but Versailles also pays EDA Chairman John Soper $63,600 to recruit jobs for the city.

“I can’t do my job for the city and spend half my time in Midway; it’s just not fair,” Soper said in at Friday’s EDA meeting. 

The Versailles City Council endorsed the idea Tuesday night. Mayor Brian Traugott said most of the work being done by EDA has produced jobs in Midway through two industrial projects while Versailles is paying “a good deal” for economic development and has no property to offer that is not in litigation.

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said in interview Friday morning, “I feel to even consider the deal there should be two more appointments” to the EDA board from Midway, which has one of seven members.

Soper indicated that he would favor one more Midway member: “I would welcome another EDA member because we got 103 acres coming to Midway. I’d like another local person that has their ear to the ground saying ‘John, that’s good; John, that’s not good’.”

To enlarge the board, the three governments would have to revise the 1986 agreement that created the EDA. Soper said it needs changing anyway, to reflect current conditions.

Vandegrift said he had not spoken with any Midway City Council members about the proposal, but he and the council will discuss the issue during the council’s regular meeting, set for 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Under the proposal the three governments would equally split the cost of a contract with Soper and pay his health insurance for a total of $68,652 a year. Each would also pay $4,000 a year for other EDA expenses.

The total funding of EDA would be $80,652 a year, down 29 percent from the current $113,600. The savings would come from no longer paying Craig McAnelly of the Bluegrass Area Development District $45,000 to serve as EDA’s part-time executive director.

Midway now pays 4.4 percent of EDA expenses; the proposal asks it to pay 33.3 percent.

Soper discussed the possibility of the county loaning Midway money to pay its share until the American Howa Kentucky and Lakeshore Learning Materials plants generate expected payroll taxes.

Soper said Lakeshore will generate $132,000 in annual payroll taxes, and AHK will produce $44,000 a year. “The money is there but they are going to have to ramp up,” he said.

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