The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Appeal of states decision asks figures on USEC offer

Staff Report

The Paducah Sun has appealed a decision by the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet to withhold details of the incentive package offered to USEC Inc. last year to build a gas centrifuge plant in Paducah.

USEC announced in January that the plant would be built in Piketon, Ohio. Former Gov. Paul Patton said the incentive package was worth well in excess of $100 million and was better than the package offered by Ohio.

Patton had said he would release a summary of the package, but his term expired before the announcement.

The Sun sought a copy of the incentive package under Kentucky's Open Records Law so the incentives could be compared with the package offered by Ohio. The state released 240 pages of documents, but none spelled out the package.

Attorneys for the state contend that incentive proposals are exempt under Kentucky's Open Records Law because they are preliminary and become public documents only if the package is accepted by the company.

The Sun filed an appeal with Attorney General Greg Stumbo, who by law has authority to rule on Open Records cases. It is the first step of an appeal. The next step if either side is dissatisfied is to file action in Franklin Circuit Court.

The Sun contends in the appeal that once the financial package was rejected by USEC, the rejection represented final action and the details should be released.

"It is important that the residents of the commonwealth receive information concerning the size and scope of financial incentives, funded with taxpayer dollars, which are being offered to attract or retain industry in the state," attorney Mark Whitlow said in the Sun's appeal.

Catherine Staib, attorney for the Economic Development Cabinet, responded for the state, expressing concern that releasing the package would hurt future economic development efforts because other states would have details of the state's resources, and companies considering Kentucky would demand packages similar to that offered USEC.

Whitlow said it could take six months or longer for the attorney general to rule.