Lawmakers reach compromise on special taxing district oversight bill (House Bill 1)

03/12/2013 02:15 PM

Legislative negotiators struck a deal on the bill to regulate special taxing districts Tuesday afternoon, solving an impasse over how much of a role fiscal courts should have in monitoring those entities.

It requires special taxing districts to announce any tax rate or fee increases at fiscal court or city commission meetings.

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, had pushed for fiscal courts to have veto power over any fee or rate increase special taxing districts proposed. Such entities include health departments, water and sewer districts, libraries and some volunteer fire departments and are usually led by an appointed board.

State Auditor Adam Edelen, whose office made the first effort to count and track such entities last year, opposed Thayer’s proposal. The bulk of the bill, House Bill 1, was based on Edelen’s recommendations to track special taxing districts and have the Department of Local Government keep tabs on them.

Both Thayer and Edelen signed off on the compromise Tuesday afternoon.

Edelen, said after the conference committee of House and Senate negotiators was an example of “renewed statesmanship.” The committee started meeting shortly after 1:30 and had an agreement by 3 p.m.

“That’s exactly what we got today — the fact that we had different parties working together to make sure the people of Kentucky got a better system of oversight and accountability,” Edelen told reporters after the meeting.

Late in the afternoon, the Senate unanimously voted 38-0 in favor of House Bill 1 with the free conference committee report.

“It didn’t get to where I wanted to be, but it certainly moves the ball down the field a little bit, while preserving the other excellent recommendations in House Bill 1,” Thayer said.

Both Thayer and Edelen credited Senate Minority Leader, R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester,
for his work on the bill.

Palmer said, “we are not in favor of fiscal courts, city governance, complete governance over special districts but we do think that they can communicate better.”
Palmer added, “We think that these special districts need to present their courts or their city commissioners with their rates, the tax rate they intend to charge, and the fiscal court needs to acknowledge receipt of that.”


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