• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

EDA says farewell to executive director Craig McAnelly

The Woodford Economic Development Authority's (EDA) monthly meeting Friday, Feb. 24, featured a salute to a man who officials say helped lure nearly 1,000 jobs to the county. It was the last meeting for Craig McAnelly, who's served as the executive director of the EDA since September of 2011. McAnelly works for the Bluegrass Area Development District (Bluegrass ADD), which the EDA paid $42,000 a year for McAnelly's services. Late last year, the City of Versailles, which pays a portion of the EDA's operating expenses, chose to opt out of the Bluegrass ADD contract, and the City of Midway and Woodford Fiscal Court followed suit. A revised deal between the three governments, spearheaded by Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott, resulted in previously unpaid EDA Chairman John Soper being paid a total of $5,721 a month. However, none of the parties involved had anything but praise for McAnelly, and at the Feb. 24 meeting, which was attended by Traugott and Woodford Judge-Executive John Coyle, Soper said McAnelly had "been a heck of a mentor to me." A portion of a resolution honoring McAnelly read, "... during Craig's tenure, nearly 1,000 new jobs were created that will generate nearly $1 million in new annual payroll tax revenue for Midway, Versailles and Woodford County ..." At the end of the meeting, McAnelly was presented with a bag containing a certain liquid refreshment made in and named for the county, and Soper pledged to continue calling him to ask for assistance. Tax-exempt status Early in the meeting, Soper discussed advice he'd received from United Bank concerning the EDA's request to be allowed to keep $12,000 annually from land sales greater than $135,000 at Midway Station. The money would be used to help make the EDA self-sufficient. In January, Soper and an attorney representing the bank strongly disagreed on the bank's then-stated desire to have Soper affirm that each sale was "in furtherance of a public purpose." Since then, the bank has dropped that request, but Soper said a bank official still believes that if the EDA keeps a portion of sales proceeds, it could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of bonds issued in 2004. McAnelly disagreed with that analysis. "My opinion for the record is that (the EDA) is a non-profit agency and we have a budget that we adhere to and we have future expenses ... There may be other engineering and studies that this board is going to incur. ... And if you're earmarking any excess proceeds towards those (expenses) than you're not making a profit ..." McAnelly said. "You're $3.4 million (from the purchase of Midway Station) in debt - keeping $12,000 a year is not going to affect tax-exempt status." Soper said he didn't disagree. McAnelly said, "I challenge you to prove me wrong," to which Soper joked that it was the cost of the challenge (losing non-profit status) that worried him. Yokohama jobs Soper briefly discussed Yokohama Industries America's announcement (reported in last week's Sun) that the company would be hiring up to 134 new workers. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has given preliminary approval for tax breaks and other incentives for the company. Last week, the Versailles City Council passed an ordinance granting the company a .5 percent payroll tax break for the new workers that will last up to 10 years. Soper said the news was another sign to young people considering careers that Woodford County has plenty of good, high-paying industrial jobs. Industry Day Some of those young people will take part in the inaugural Woodford County High School Industry Day, which will take place March 21 and feature 300 seniors and 10 school administrators. Each of the students will tour two of five local companies: NSG Pilkington, Yokohama, Ruggles Sign, Quad Graphics and OSRAM Sylvania. More Than A Bakery won't be in operation yet, but Soper said company officials will provide lunch (likely at First Baptist Church) and give a presentation.

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