Campbellsburg bristles about economic development payment

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

Campbellsburg will honor its commitment of $2,500 per year toward economic development in Henry County, though the commission had reservations about doing so.

In September, Mayor Rex Morgan expressed concern about an invoice the city had received from Kentucky Connected, the six-county regional economic development group.

But Morgan and the council were concerned, because when the council agreed to chip in $2,500 per year for three years, it was at a time when the county was considering pursuing economic development on its own. As such, Morgan said, the county was going to be contributing more out of its coffers than the cities.

Now, with each county in the regional group chipping in $15,000, he said, the county is on the hook for less. As such, he argues, the cities shouldn’t have to pay as much.

Along with Campbellsburg, New Castle pays $2,500, and Eminence pays $5,000 for economic development efforts. With the cities contributing $10,000, Morgan argues, the county is only on the line for $5,000, instead of $45,000.

“Somewhere in there, obviously, the county judge-executive was able to make the call of not committing the $55,000, which was first discussed whenever the cities were asked to make the commitment,” he said.

But Morgan said it’s not necessarily about the money. For him, it’s a matter of principle.

“If the game plan had changed,” he said, “why weren’t the cities informed and then the whole financial aspect of this project reevaluated?

“It went from a $75,000 to $90,000 commitment, down to $15,000.”

The council agreed to honor the original three-year commitment.

“I think we ought to pay the $1,250 the next two years” Morgan said. “After that, guess what? Campbellsburg has met its obligations.”

Council member Jason Stanley agreed, and expressed concern about bringing in new businesses without focusing on retaining existing businesses.

“It’s about like the Brunswick thing in Eminence,” he said. “Everybody wants new, but when Brunswick left, that was a big impact.

“The good thing about Campbellsburg, we kind of have a lot to offer right now. But the county’s going to benefit from it, too.”

Morgan said the idea that Campbellsburg could benefit from new business coming in has been “hung over Campbellsburg’s head.”

“Campbellsburg may or may not (benefit from new business),” he said. “Eminence may or may not. New Castle may or may not. But the county will.”