Local Option is Key to Addressing Community Needs

Mayor Gale Cherry

Mayor Gale Cherry

Across the Commonwealth, communities are facing historic challenges to maintaining their infrastructure and public facilities while also providing essential services. Our bridges, roads and sewers have fallen into disrepair. Police and fire officials are using outdated equipment and buildings. And our libraries and recreation facilities must find new ways to do more with less. At the same time, state and federal funding for local projects has diminished, shifting even more of the financial burden to municipalities.

Our challenges in Princeton are typical of those faced by many Kentucky communities. The city’s current firehouse, for example, is in dire condition. Built in the 1940s, the former car showroom houses fire trucks and equipment worth more than $3 million. Yet, the ceiling is failing, and the building has flooded at least once. The building is in such poor condition that a .4 earthquake (something we’re prone to in our region) would easily topple it. Replacing the firehouse would cost nearly $2.5 million.

Beyond addressing essential safety services, Princeton is also facing issues that impact the quality-of-life within the community. Leaks in the public swimming pool forced its closure last summer impacting numerous families who enjoy this popular amenity. The pool also provides funding for Princeton’s community parks so the closure impacted at least 20 employees.

Whether it’s building a new firehouse or repairing the public pool, a local option sales tax in Kentucky would provide municipalities with an economic development tool for special projects within their communities. Despite their importance, local improvement projects often languish from lack of funding. Unlike the federal government, cities and counties must balance a budget. Most municipalities take a conservative financial outlook and avoid incurring debt while also maintaining emergency funds. The local option would give Kentucky communities the ability to address much needed improvements while being fiscally responsible. Local option funds do not go into a city’s general budget. Once a project is completed, the local option ends but the benefits continue.

Cities are very good at determining what they need. The local option would provide municipalities with the tools to address those needs. I urge the Kentucky General Assembly to allow Kentuckians to vote on a constitutional amendment that would give communities the right to consider the option.

Mayor Gale Cherry is a native Princetonian and graduate of Caldwell County High School, Western Kentucky University, and the University of Louisville. After more than a decade of community service, Mayor Cherry was sworn into her first term as Mayor of Princeton in January 2007. As part of her many accomplishments aimed at improving the quality-of-life in the city, Mayor Cherry has increased job opportunities and achieved national recognition for innovative community development initiatives.

What People Are Saying

  • “Putting the local-tax amendment on the November 2014 statewide ballot is a no-brainer. If local people want to levy local taxes on themselves, they should be able to.”

    Al Cross, Courier-Journal columnist
  • Jeff-Bringardner-headshot-only“This is a way to keep dollars in the area, to come up with a diverse slate of projects that sync up with the long-term plans of the community and get voted on by the people”

    Jeff Bringardner, President, Humana Kentucky
  • BillLamb“If Louisville could adopt a 1% Local Option Tax, it would impose a minimal burden, but would raise over 90 million dollars a year.”

    Bill Lamb, President and General Manager for WDRB and WNYO
  • Bill Samuels Bellarmine Portrait“Local option makes all the sense in the world. Offering citizens the opportunity to vote on investing in their community is how our country ought to operate.”

    Bill Samuels, Chairman, Emeritus Makers Mark
  • …a new way for communities to see the projects they want and need go from the drawing board to reality — and to do it for themselves.

    Jim Host, founder of Host Communications and former State Commerce Secretary
  • LIFT is a tried-and-true tool that allows for more voter involvement in the process.  Voters, not politicians, would help determine big picture, visionary projects that could improve quality of life.

    Dave Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  • …an idea whose time has come, and could be a crucial economic development tool which will help our local communities build a better future, and the new jobs and businesses we need.

    Hal Goode, President and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Economic Development
  • In our opinion, Kentucky voters should be allowed to vote on the local option sales tax because it could fund public facilities without increasing property taxes.

    Morehead News
  • It will allow communities to plan and pay for improvements to enhance civic and economic life without going hat in hand each budget session to Frankfort.

    Lexington Herald-Leader
  • The beauty of it is that local voters have the say-so as to its enactment, and they have a sense that they are getting what they pay for.

    Princeton Times-Leader