Opponents of Local Option Miss the Mark

Judge Steve Pendery

Judge Steve Pendery

Opponents to the local option have warned that it will serve as an arbitrary, unilateral tax increase. Such rhetoric is both misleading and a disservice to the common sense of voters in Kentucky. In my 30 years of public service, I have learned that voters can be trusted to make the right decisions for their communities. The local option allows for that to happen by giving voters the choice of whether or not to support a special project in their own backyard. Simply put, the local option is democracy in its truest form, and the people – not politicians – will make the decisions.

Opponents to the local option also ignore a key point when discussing its merits: it won’t change how people vote. Voters in Northern Kentucky favor conservative fiscal management. Frivolous projects and programs stand little chance of gaining support in this region. If the local option is passed, it may rarely be utilized in Northern Kentucky. However, having the option available to fund meaningful projects may be beneficial to our community in the future.

Our convention center continues to draw large groups from across the tri-state area and beyond. These groups spend millions of dollars in our hotels, restaurants

and stores – supporting thousands of jobs in the process. In fact, tourism comprises 10 percent of our local economy, and it’s driven, in part, by the convention center (which is the only one in the state to cover its operating costs). That said, many groups that use the center are increasing in size and we are going to need a larger facility in order to retain our existing customer base. The merits of supporting tourism in the region and expanding the convention center should be considered by voters. The local option would allow us to do so.

Critics of the local option are using provocative claims to distort the discussion. Unfortunately, these assertions do nothing to address the reality that many Kentucky communities need resources to improve their infrastructure and quality-of-life. Money for those projects isn’t coming from the state or any other government coffers. It’s time to set the record straight and allow the right people – voters – to make the best decisions for their own communities.

Steve Pendery has served for 15 years as Judge/Executive of Campbell County. Judge Pendery also serves on the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, Dan Beard Council, the Campbell County Extension District, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Campbell County Conservancy. Prior to his current position, Judge Pendery served as mayor of Fort Thomas for nine years, and was a City Councilman for six years. He is chief operating officer of Pendery Insurance and Risk Management Group.

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