Kentucky Association of Counties

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SPOTLIGHT

County priority bills highlighted during week No. 8 of legislative session

By Grace Clark, Communications Associate
Legislation focused on counties includes bills addressing occupational license fees, restaurant taxes, county audit costs, revenue diversification and annexation.

Encourage your legislators to cosponsor county priority bills 

Rep. Tom O’Dell Smith filed two bills to address inequities in current law that restrict county funding streams. HB 438 will remove the arbitrary restrictions placed on occupational license fees in counties with more than 30,000 population, allowing countywide collection of payroll taxes and removing the cap on the tax rate. HB 438 would create an equitable system for all 120 counties for the collection of occupational license fees. 

HB 449 would create equity among counties and with cities when it comes to allowing a restaurant tax of up to 3 percent. Funds from the restaurant tax would be required to be reinvested in the community to promote tourism, recreation and economic development. Under HB 449, 25 percent of the restaurant taxes collected would be distributed to the tourism commission. The remaining funds would be required to be used by the local government for the capital construction, maintenance or operation of infrastructure that supports tourism, recreation or economic development within the jurisdiction.

Both pieces of legislation provide counties with much-needed revenue options to provide essential services to their communities. We encourage members to reach out to their legislators, and ask them to cosponsor these bills  to reduce the unfair financial burden currently imposed by counties’ limited tax authority. 

County audit bill introduced 

Representative John Blanton has introduced HB 588, which streamlines the county audit process and lowers the cost burden to counties. HB 588 addressing the following: 

  • Increases efficiency: requires the Auditor of Public Accounts (APA) to complete county audits by the same date currently required by private auditors.
  • Provides market-based solutions to save taxpayer dollars: allows counties the option to employ private auditors to conduct county audits.
  • Includes safeguards: APA retains the right to audit counties every four years, counties which received an adverse, disclaimed, or qualified opinion the preceding year, or counties whose previous year audit was not completed by the statutory deadline.
  • Protects transparency: APA will still review all audits conducted by private auditors.

Audits are an important facet of the transparency provided to constituents; However, market-based solutions are needed to save counties and taxpayers money. County audits conducted by the APA cost counties approximately double the cost of private audits.

Revenue diversification bill moves forward 

HB 475, which seeks to provide more options to diversify county tax revenue options, passed by an overwhelming majority out of the House on Wednesday. The bill, sponsored by Chairman Michael Meredith, proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Kentucky that would permit the General Assembly to expand and modernize the revenue options available to counties. This is a necessary first step toward modernizing funding options for counties.

This measure is necessary to fulfill the revenue needs of counties to fund the services residents expect while maintaining local control and decision-making. Should the bill be signed into law, it would be placed on the November ballot for voters to consider. 

The bill has been received in the Senate, and we encourage members to contact their senator and ask for their support of HB 475

Annexation bill introduced in House 

Chairman Ed Massey has introduced legislation to prohibit city annexation of school property without the approval of the governing body of the public school system. 

HB 515 will give school districts the choice between being annexed or remaining outside the city. Currently, law does not allow a school district to object to annexation.

 


 

Dates to watch

March 1: last day to file a new House bill

March 3: last day to file a new Senate bill

March 31 - April 12: veto days (no session takes place on these days)

April 14: final day of session (Sine Die)

 

As always, please email shellie.hampton@kaco.org or gracie.lagadinos@kaco.org with any questions or feedback from legislators. We appreciate everything you do to lead counties to a successful session.

Kentucky Association of Counties
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