Bipartisan group of mayors and judge-executives ask for local option taxing

02/12/2013 11:50 AM

Republican county judge-executives from northern and western Kentucky joined the mayors of Kentucky’s two largest cities to rally Tuesday for local option sales taxes to pay for large projects and for pension reform.

The Metropolitan Alliance for Growth, which includes Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray along with judge-executives from urban counties, to highlight a plan for a constitutional amendment that would allow communities to vote to increase the sales tax in their area to pay for a specific project. They’re calling the measure LIFT for “Local Investments For Transformation.” Once the project is finished, the tax increase goes away.

Currently the Kentucky constitution does not allow for local governments to levy a tax via referendum. Fischer, and the Metro Alliance are making a lap around the state in 2013 seeking to build support for the idea before making a push for legislation. Fischer said that legislation was in the process of being drafted.

Amending the constitution requires the approval by three-fifths of each legislative chamber and the ratification of voters. But it can only be put on the ballot in even-numbered years making 2014 the earliest it could be voted on.

Daviess County Judge Executive Al Mattingly, a Republican, said there is a difference between a tax increased levied by elected officials and one agreed to by the electorate.

“Anyone who would say, ‘Yes it’s another tax increase,’ it is. But it’s not a tax increase put on by elected officials. It’s a tax increase that is agreed to – agreed to by the very people that would pay that tax increase,” he said.

The group also applauded the state Senate for passing a bill aimed at fully funding the state pension system – SB2. And the local officials asked that legislators take a close look at the long-term cost estimates to fully fund the cash balance plan for retirees.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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