By Chris Cooper
Source: News Democrat Leader
The Russellville City Council and mayor Mark Stratton showed their support for HB 1 recently with the passing of a resolution supporting the Local Investments for Transformation (LIFT) legislation. Although it’s undecided at this time, the city feels it is important to allow its citizens a chance to have their voice heard on special projects that could help their community.
On Feb. 12, HB1 passed the House 62-35.
LIFT proposes an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that would allow citizens to vote on a one-penny additional local sales tax dedicated to the funding of transformation local projects, which would be removed once the projects are paid for.
“These would be projects voted on by the the people themselves, instead of the government telling them what is going to be done,” said mayor Stratton. The good thing about this initiative is people have a say and after a project is complete, then the tax goes away.”
If the Bill passes, the new revenue generated would be dedicated to funding a specific set of projects chosen by a community-wide, citizen-driven process. It would not go into a city’s or county’s general fund. And it ends when the projects are paid off and any future local option sales taxes would not overlap and would require a new referendum vote.
“I thought, along with council, this would be a good opportunity for everybody. This is a good avenue for getting people involved when they vote on how their money is spent on a certain project. This way the citizen knows exactly where their money is going,” said the mayor. “I think when people have the opportunity to vote, it lets their elected officials know if it’s a project worth while to go after.”
Mayor Stratton said he has been contacted through email saying the bill may not pass, however. At this point it’s a waiting game.
Thirty-eight other states allow at least one or more local governments the flexibility to assess a local option sales tax. Municipalities provide drinking water, utilities, garbage collection, sewer, police and fire protection, maintenance of roads and many other essential services to local businesses and industries which provides jobs and employment to local citizens.
Federal and state revenues for infrastructure, capital projects and road maintenance has declined or remained stagnant due to budget constraints. Limited revenue options at the local level have caused Kentucky cities to delay investments in infrastructure and other capital projects in order to meet the increased demands of other municipal services.
Economic development occurs where infrastructure and municipal services can be provided easily, and at a reasonable cost. Good infrastructure is essential to economic development and job creation.
The council and mayor of Russellville feel by passing the resolution that a temporary voter-approved one-cent local option sales tax would give citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky the ability to invest local tax dollars to improve the quality of life and economic development future of their community.
To contact Chris Cooper, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 270-726-8394.