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.