Tax idea should rest with local voters – The Times Leader

Clarksville and Nashville are two Tennessee cities that Caldwell countians have been known to
frequent for shopping, especially during the Christmas season. But one thing that always gnaws at
Kentuckians spending money in the Volunteer state is the amount of tax being paid.

Tennessee has no state income tax. It relies on a state sales tax, and municipalities have the right to
add to the state’s 7 percent rate. The total sales tax rate can be as high as 9.75 percent, depending on
choices by individual cities. Quite a difference over Kentucky’s 6 percent sales tax.

Now, there’s a local-option sales tax movement afoot in Kentucky. Under a proposed constitutional
amendment, local residents would have the authority to levy an additional 1 percent sales tax. We’re
not saying we’re in favor of raising the sales tax, but we are saying we like the idea that local
communities get to decide for themselves, rather than that decision being made in Frankfort.

What this means is that if a community senses a strong need, then proponents can offer it as a sales
tax option on the ballot. Local folks would vote on local projects. It’s that simple. And it means that
if the tax is approved, the voters know where the money is going.

The proposed amendment is the first step in the process. If it proceeds and is approved by this state’s
voters, then cities or counties can proceed with a local-option sales tax. It could be restricted for use
as a way to raise money for designated local projects, such as improving streets and roadways,
constructing or improving a park or public facilities, or any number of economic and civic betterment
projects.

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. Also, people who visit your community to spend dollars at retail
establishments would be helping foot the bill for projects. Food, medicine, utilities and automobiles
would be exempt from the local-option tax.

We like the idea that any proposed sales tax would have restrictions, such as no additional tax could
be added until the project for which the tax was intended was completed and paid for.

Source: The Times Leader
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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