Those skeptical of the need to pass a local option sales tax in Kentucky should drive a few hours south to Nashville. The vitality of that community is unmistakable; a thriving arts and cultural center that is also an economic heavyweight. To our north is Indianapolis, which decades ago we jokingly referred to as “Nap City” or “India-no-place.” Now that city is prospering, too, as it continues to develop and attract businesses far and wide.
Visiting other metropolitan hubs makes it woefully apparent that Louisville is falling behind in our ability to stay competitive with other cities. While other metros are building world-class facilities, our public projects often languish from lack of funding and support. Economic growth in the private sector has suffered as a result, as more companies consider factors such as quality of life for employees as they look to expand their operations. Also, state statutes requiring an antiquated tax system and 1950s labor laws have obstructed Louisville’s chance to move forward.
A campaign currently underway in Kentucky – Local Investments for Transformation (LIFT) – would give municipalities the ability to get shovels in the ground for projects that matter most to those communities. The local option is up to a 1 percent additional sales tax enacted on the local level for meaningful projects. The local option is temporary and it goes away when the project is finished. Best of all, local
option funds do not go into a local government’s general fund. In short, the local option is a precise economic tool that puts control in the hands of area residents. As a Republican, I can state with clarity that this is the ultimate conservative-style tax.
Here at home, the University of Louisville needs additional capital to expand both the arts and science classroom facilities as well as medical research space. Cultural organizations like the Frazier Museum and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft also could benefit from the local option to expand their outstanding programs and make them even more important as educational facilities and tourist attractions. The local option would allow decisions to be made at the community level, in this case by the residents of Jefferson County.
Businesses would also benefit from the economic activity created by local option projects. Materials produced locally would move in greater volume due to increased building construction. As activity increases more people would be fully employed and the economic stimulus would create more prosperity. I urge members of Kentucky’s business community to share your support for the local option with state lawmakers. Success – not partisanship or the
status quo – is what will move Louisville ahead and keep us competitive in the coming years.
William A. Stone is president of Louisville Plate Glass Company and a longstanding member of Louisville’s business community. He served on the
executive committees of both the U of L Board of Overseers and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Bill was President of the U of L Associates and served six years as a U of L Trustee. He is past director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Louisville Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, the Transportation Authority of River City (TARC), and the Kentucky Fair Board. Bill was a chairman of the Kentucky Delegations to the White House Conference on Small Business in 1980 and 1986.