Local Option is Key to Louisville’s Future Prosperity

Bill Stone

Bill Stone

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.

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