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Sidewalks, Parks And Payroll Tax - Murray Mayor Candidates Outline Top Priorities

Matt Markgraf
Bob Rogers (left) and Ed Davis (right)

The Candidates for Murray Mayor kicked off a forum Tuesday night with differing opinions on top priorities.

The candidates participated in a forum hosted by the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce and Murray State University Town & Gown. Bob Rogers is a former educator and school superintendent. Ed Davis is a part-time preacher and retired Purchase Area Development District administrator.

Rogers said two things he's heard a lot about are the need to improve the parks system, particularly the swimming pool, and for more sidewalks in the city. "Although it's a very expensive item, we're going to have to start addressing it. And the way we address it is we start putting money in the budget each year to build as many sidewalks as we can," he said.

Davis described himself as an advocate against the payroll tax. The tax narrowly-passed last year and generated vocal opposition. Davis said, if elected, one of his first orders of business will be to ask the city council for a referendum in 2019 to give people a chance to vote on whether they want the tax. "If the vote is 'yes we want it' it's over and done. If it is 'no' we will proceed to eliminate the payroll tax," Davis said.

Davis said the budget needs to be realistic. He said he's an accountant by trade, but said it's difficult to read the financial statements and determine what has been allocated to each account, as the check register states to whom a check is written, but not what the check was for.  

Rogers said he's studied the budget and said the estimated payroll tax revenue of $3.5 million is not a net gain due to reductions in property, insurance and sticker taxes. He credited the payroll tax revenue for recently paved streets and the increase in salaries for police officers.

When it comes to public input, Rogers said he wants department heads to set aside time to listen to community members. Davis said he will allow "as many as we possibly can" to speak at city council meetings as well as holding town hall meetings.

Both candidates said the city's downtown infrastructure needs improvement and agreed there needs to be more reason for people to go downtown.

On the future of recycling in Murray, both candidates said they'd defer to experts on the matter.

The Murray Mayoral race is nonpartisan.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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