By Briana Conner
By Justin Jones
PADUCAH, Ky. –Kentucky is one of 12 states and the only one in our viewing area that doesn’t allow a local option sales tax. Tuesday night, Paducah commissioners passed a resolution throwing their weight behind a bill that would change that.
House Bill 1 would allow communities in the state to raise the sales tax rate up to one percent. That money would be used to pay for a voter-approved infrastructure or quality of life projects. Once funding is complete, the tax hike goes away.
Paducah stands to gain an estimated $15.9 million a year from a one percent increase. It’s an option commissioners say our community can’t afford to keep doing without.
The conversation inside Etcetera Coffeehouse wasn’t about coffee beans or steamed milk Wednesday. It was about an idea Commissioner Allan Rhodes said is even hotter. He said, “I don’t see much downside.” He was talking about an option to raise the sales tax to pay for special projects. “It works to Paducah and McCracken County to our advantage more than most cities.”
Numbers from The Kentucky League of Cities and shoppers in the streets both prove Paducah is a retail hub, despite its population size. That means most of the money collected would come from out of town. “Does that make us uncompetitive? I don’t particularly worry about it in the coffee business,” said Rhodes.
One percent isn’t much when you’re just talking about a cup of coffee. It would add a couple of cents to the price tag, but a big ticket item like a chuck wagon utility vehicle would be about an extra $40. “They’re still gonna come here,” said Kelly Ray. She’s an assistant manager at Rural King where customers can find everything from ATV’s that will set you back thousands to much smaller merchandise that people can get for cheap.
She said shoppers shouldn’t mind paying to make Paducah a better place to live. “Being a small one percent… If it was going for something that would benefit the community, I think it would be okay,” said Ray. It’s a vote of confidence for an idea Rhodes said will give the community more choices.
HB1 still needs to be voted on in the Kentucky General Assembly. The resolution passed in Paducah only means local leaders support it.