The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

February 5, 2014

Cities, counties need local control through local-option initiative

RICHMOND — Cities and counties small and large across Kentucky have big dreams for their communities – ideas that are transformative and can have lasting impact for generations.

Bardstown wants to build a YMCA to help keep its citizens healthy. Eastern Kentucky communities dream of transforming the region into a destination attracting hunters, anglers, campers and adventure tourists.

Louisville hopes to build a 100-mile hiking and biking path across the city – the type of amenity that attracts young people and entrepreneurs who start businesses and grow the state’s economy.

But those same cities and counties have been struggling for years to pay for basic needs, from paving roads to picking up trash to policing the streets — and with the rising costs of pensions, local government budgets are experiencing an even tighter financial squeeze.

Few communities have much, if anything, left over to invest in capital improvements, such as modern firehouses, improved park or pool facilities, or new roads and sidewalks.

Our state constitution limits revenue options for cities and counties, and when fixed costs escalate, our local communities are left with few options to provide the outstanding services and amenities that citizens expect and deserve.

However, legislation being considered during this year’s General Assembly could change that in a significant way. Local Investments for Transformation (LIFT) is a simple but powerful tool for cities and counties that want to invest in their future through the use of a temporary local-option sales tax. It gives the decision-making power to the people.

For Madison County a local-option sales tax of 1 percent would yield amost $5.7 million yearly, according to state data. Imagine what that money, if invested in specific projects important to your community, could mean to your cities or county.

How does it work? The Local Option allows citizens to fund specific hometown capital projects with an additional 1-percent sales tax. The people vote “yes” or “no” on the projects and the tax. If approved, that additional 1 percent stays at home in a separate, restricted fund.

The money would not go to Frankfort and would not be allowed to go into your local government’s general fund. And it would not be collected on food, medicine, utilities or automobiles.

Most importantly, the 1 percent would go away when the projects are completed. And, if people vote no, there is no tax and no project.

This is a proven tool that works well in other places. In fact, 37 states already allow for this type of local decision making. Kentuckians should have the same right, but we much first amend our state constitution.

State Senate and House members must vote to put the question of the local option on a statewide referendum. We are calling on the General Assembly to act this session so Kentuckians can vote on whether to amend the constitution in November 2014.

If that constitutional amendment is approved, cities and counties could then decide to bring a local referendum to their voters to fund projects in their communities.

The local option is direct democracy in action. We all know that the government closest to the people is the best government, and this is citizen-driven, local decision-making at its best.

The local option has gained significant momentum and support from Gov. Steve Beshear, local elected and civic leaders in small towns, large cities and rural communities. It has the support of county judges, mayors, business executives and economic development groups. And it’s been endorsed by regional and statewide groups ranging from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and several local chambers to the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties. 

Please call your legislators in Frankfort (1-800-372-7181) and tell them that Kentuckians deserve the right to control their own future, and we need the local option to make it happen.

Bill Samuels is a lifelong Kentuckian and chairman emeritus of Maker’s Mark

To learn more about this issue, visit: www.LIFTKentucky.com, Twitter: @liftkentucky. Facebook.com/liftkentucky

1
Text Only
Viewpoints
  • 06.29 CrystalFarewell.jpg Starting over at Head Start

    All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
    I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.

    June 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ike Adams They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days

    I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
    At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
    I grew up on a little subsistence, hillside farm deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, among the coalfields near the Virginia line.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth

    When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
    Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate

    Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
    His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Senate campaign already in full bloom

    Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
    McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG ‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’

    What some candidates could gain in this year’s election – beyond just winning office – is a stark reminder of how wrong political leaders were when declaring last year they had adequately addressed Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.
    Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association

    Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
    Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Hitting the campaign trail

    The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
    We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
    McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case of the scary black cat

    If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
    Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.

    May 10, 2014

  • Ike Adams Basking in the spring sunshine

    If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
    I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.

    May 8, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Madison County’s three local governing bodies ban smoking in indoor public places?

Yes
No
     View Results