Fiscal Court proposes eliminating funding for RiverPark Center, drastically lowering EDC allocation

April 20, 2023 | 12:10 am

Updated April 20, 2023 | 11:12 am

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Fiscal Court is planning to eliminate all funding for the RiverPark Center and drastically reduce the allocation for the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, according to their proposed 2023-24 budget.

The entire proposed budget was discussed Wednesday during a work session that can be viewed here.

Judge-Executive Charlie Castlen recommended giving $0 to RPC, compared to the $12,500 that was allocated last year. Castlen said while the RPC’s work does fill hotels, he was told by Executive Director Rich Jorn that the organization does not turn a profit. Castlen said Jorn told him that led to the creation of the GhostLight Lounge, but there is still no profit with the opening of that venue.

“They admitted that they’re losing money … They have created something that is as divisive as it has been in our community,” Castlen said, referencing the opposition to the drag shows held at the GhostLight Lounge. “They readily admit that they’re losing money and yet they keep doing it. It’s almost as though they’re saying we don’t need your money.”

Commissioners Larry Conder and Janie Marksberry support eliminating funding for the RiverPark Center. Conder also said that RPC officials have “chosen not to make a profit” as they haven’t leased the Turley building.

“That’s a great space, three floors. There’s never been anyone, at least to my knowledge, that’s done anything to that facility. So to me, it’s like get your own house together, literally, and then come and talk to us about what you might want to do for the rest of your time operating,” he said.

Commissioner Chris Castlen, however, said he doesn’t think they need to completely stop providing funds due to the work that RPC has done in the community.

“The amount of shows they bring in, they’re filling and putting people in hotels for some things and put people in restaurants. Those are all things that come back to the Fiscal Court,” he said.

Another major budget change is the proposal of only allocating $40,000 — down from $184,000 — to GOEDC. Even so, that’s more than what Charlie Castlen had planned earlier this year when he sent a notice to the GOEDC board saying they could lose all funding from Fiscal Court.

Since then, he talked to the Executive Committee in “spirited” conversations.

Castlen said he wanted to show support to the EDC, which is “quite frankly the only reason the $40,000 is there and not $0.”

He added, “I’m not particularly eager to give them anything more.”

Chris Castlen said he is open to reducing the EDC’s funding, but not at the level that was proposed.

“I think it would be for the benefit of our community to show that although we are decreasing it some, because of issues that we have let them know about, we still support them enough that we want them to do a great job for the community,” he said.

Charlie Castlen said that still doesn’t make him inclined to raise the proposed funding. He also noted that Gov. Andy Beshear travels the state and when major developments are announced, Daviess County isn’t among the locations.

“Daviess County is noticeably absent and so I am not inclined to add anything to (the proposal),” he said.

Marksberry said she agrees with the $40,000. Conder stated that there should be a compromise that they can come to for the time being, and then emphasized the allocation should be used for efforts that are needed to develop Daviess County economically to prepare the county for an eventual day should the Governor grant a large job producer.

In discussing smaller allocations, Chris Castlen noted the Daviess County Lion’s Club is budgeted to receive $5,000 while asking for $10,000. Charlie Castlen said that the $5,000 the club was given in FY22-23 was a one-time payment, but now he is inclined to provide it again.

“I put it in the budget as $5,000. I gave them 50% of what their ask was, again recognizing that their last years were a commitment of one time. In previous years of the prior Fiscal Court, they received nothing,” he said.

Conder said he would accept providing compensation for the Lion’s Club help with funds spent for the Tire Reclamation event. Marksberry said she’d be open to meeting in the middle with a proposal of $7,500 if the Court couldn’t do the full $10,000.

Commissioners agreed on the $7,500 allocation.

The total proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24 is $106,508,475 — down $15.1 million after last year’s budget came just above $121.7 million.

A summary of the Revenue and Appropriations are as follows:

  • General Fund: $47,857,163
  • Road Fund: $6,972,750
  • Jail Fund: $ 11,710,937
  • Local Government Economic Assistance (LGEA): $135,500
  • Economic Development Fund: $1,688,000
  • Bond Fund: $2,686,200
  • Solid Waste Fund: $24,826,925
  • American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Fund: $10,250,000
  • County Clerk Permanent Storage Fees Fund: $381,000
  • Total of all Budget Appropriations: $106,508,475

April 20, 2023 | 12:10 am

Share this Article

Other articles you may like