GLASGOW — Park City officials are closer to getting a distillery to locate in their town thanks to a $110,000 contribution from the Barren County Economic Authority.
BCEA approved the contribution last week after listening to Park City Mayor Larry Poteet's presentation. The mayor explained the company, whose identity has not yet been revealed, is interested in buying 18 acres for the location of the distillery, plus a tasting room and rack houses.
Of the $110,000 contributed by BCEA, $90,000 will be used to purchase land and $20,000 to clear it.
“I spoke with the land owner. We will have an option done within 60 days,” Poteet said.
In addition, the city will be contributing $182,000 for the installation of water and sewer, plus phase one of the environmental assessment.
The city is also granting a three-year property tax rebate.
“We're looking at $3,239 just in property taxes that the city would acquire. Occupational taxes — we're looking at $4,680 for 15 people at $15 per hour,” Poteet said. “Which that is all on the low side because the investor I've been talking to is saying he's going to employ anywhere from 15 to 20 people for $15 to $35 per hour.”
The occupational tax revenue will be a10 percent increase to the city's budget.
The mayor also said the city would like to apply 25 precent of its extra income to its long-term debt, which will enable the city to pay it off two years early and increase the city's budget by $6,000.
“Next, we would like to do a 25 percent increase to the interlocal agreement with the Barren County Fiscal Court and the Barren County Sheriff to get more police force over there,” he said.
The city's third goal is to become a paying member of BCEA.
“We feel obligated. If you all feel like this is worthy for you all to invest in, we want to invest back in the Barren County Economic Authority,” he said.
Owen Lambert, BCEA chairman, questioned where Park City got the $182,000 to do water, sewer and phase one of the environmental study. The money was a gift to the city, Poteet said.
Lambert asked about the probability of the investor making the commitment, and Poteet said he spoke to him two weeks ago.
“They are still on board. They are waiting on me to see what I can do,” the mayor said.
Jackie Brown, a BCEA board member, expressed reservations due to a new BCEA board set to take office soon.
“Out of respect for them to make a financial obligation of this magnitude, I feel like it is not our place,” Brown said.
The terms of three members of BCEA's board of directors were supposed to end June 30, and at least two were not going to be reappointed. But their terms don't actually end until their successors are appointed.
There is also uncertainty for BCEA board members whose terms are not expiring, because the interlocal agreement that established the organization has been in a revision process – to determine how the board should be constructed.
Brown pointed out the Barren County Fiscal Court is scheduled to approve it on Tuesday. The Cave City and Glasgow City councils, as well as the Park City Commission, have already approved it.
“If it's approved, which I think in all likelihood it will be, the next step will be (for it) to go to Frankfort for review. I fear if we were to make a decision approving this today then possibly there may be legality issues forthcoming that would cause our decision not to be acceptable (for a new board),” Brown said.
Scott Young, also a BCEA board member, said if he understood Brown correctly, he was asking the current BCEA board not to take any action until the new board comes into existence. If that was the case, then the board needed to adjourn its meeting.
Brown then said he was only interested in approving decisions of absolute essential nature for the transition.
“I think this new board could be in place here within days if some steps are exercised, but again, I'm only interested in making decisions because we are on our way out and the door is closing on us. I think we would only look at the ones that are of an 'essential nature,'” Brown said.
Cave City Mayor Dwayne Hatcher pointed out there is no way of knowing how long it will take for the Kentucky Department for Local Government to give the new interlocal agreement final approval.
“To me, to just not make any decisions, and don't get me wrong, I respect every one of you and you have done a tremendous job, but to me that is just plain and simple a neglect of duty,” Hatcher said. “That's just my opinion. But as long as you are here, you have the authority to make decisions in your best judgement.”
Brown told Hatcher that his “heart bleeds for this situation,” but at the same time a request has been made for a new board with a new beginning.
“I feel like if we engage today in new projects we would hinder that new beginning that has been recommended,” Brown said. “We do not know the objectives, the goals, the visions of this new board.”
The discussion soon returned to Poteet's request for funding.
Young asked Poteet about his anticipation of the potential business coming to Park City.
“If phase one comes back, he's ready to start building. He wants to start building by fall,” Poteet said. “He's going to start with one rack house.”
Carl Dickerson, a Barren County magistrate and co-owner of Dickerson Lumber Co., said he knows of a similar business in Danville that has grown by leaps and bounds since it first opened.
“A lot of people in Barren County don't like the idea of people making whiskey here, I know, but it's such a big business that we're missing the boat if this guy is ready to go,” he said.
Dickerson pointed out the city will be able to charge property tax on bourbon storage and asked Poteet how many barrels the company's officials anticipate having.
“He's wanting to build as many as he can, but of course he has to get the first one filled,” Poteet said.
Gary Hartell, also a BCEA board member, said he likes the diversity the project provides. He also said he understood what Brown meant by not knowing the intentions of the new board and that he has similar sentiments, but he said he realizes the board's responsibility.
“I don't know if that new board would appreciate us committing 30 some odd percent of the working capital that we have today, (but) I'm ready to do that. I think the mayor and judge, you'll have to explain that to people coming in that they have less working capital to work with if you don't have a problem with that,” Hartell said.
Brown then made a motion to defer the board's action on the project unconditionally, but the motion died due to a lack of a second.
Glasgow Mayor Harold M.D. Armstrong urged the BCEA board to look at the economic impact such a business will have as far as bringing tourists to the area.
“I mean I don't have a vote in this and I don't have an opinion other than it's been proposed and I think it would be a good deal for Park City,” he said. “... If this thing is lined out correctly, it could be very positive for this board and for Barren County.”
Young agreed and said it is a unique opportunity. He also said there needs to be specific conditions established by BCEA.
Barren County Judge-Executive Micheal Hale urged the BCEA board to make a decision.
“We've got all these suggestions. Put it in a motion. Put in the restrictions. Let's move on. Let's do something because we're dragging our feet. Let's go, board,” he said.
Lambert called for a vote, and Brown was the only one to vote against the project.
The BCEA board also agreed to be supportive of Chapatcha Industrial Park in Cave City, but to request additional information regarding further enhancement of the park.
“We are currently working with two prospective clients,” said Cave City Mayor Dwayne Hatcher.
One such client is close to finalizing its plan to locate in Cave City.
“They have all of their licenses and everything in place. They are getting their financials together this week. As a matter of fact, in two to three weeks he hopefully will be ready to get going,” Hatcher said.
While Hatcher did not disclose the name of the business, he did say it was “another product business that would give us more variety.”
“Along with alcohol, it is another very rising product,” he said.
Hatcher continued that the city is looking for a commitment from the economic authority to move forward with the enhancement of the industrial park.
The mayor provided the BCEA board with rough estimates of what it would take to do the work. Some of those are: $500,000 for excavation of 15 acres; $6,000 for lighting; $90,000 for clearing; and $25,000 for signage.
Lambert then asked if Hatcher was requesting a vote of confidence or for the BCEA board to reserve $500,000 and earmark it for the project with conditions.
Hatcher replied that he was asking for whatever the authority could obligate.
“Me, personally, I think that a partnership for more inclusion of Cave City in our activities is one of the greatest coups that has been pulled off in the last two or three decades, and I personally want to see that continue and I want to see it grow,” Lambert said.
He continued that he would like to have more details on how the city plans to enhance the park, plus specific estimates and detail of how the work will be done.
“And like Park City, it's important to us to know that those who are contributing in the future if they are going to be able to keep their word,” Lambert said. “I think it would be important for us to know what your plan is for contribution of the land or sale of the land, or what the end game is and how you are going to make sure what responsibilities you are going to levy on your clients. Those things will make our decision a lot easier.”