Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

November 25, 2012

Local taxing districts mirror state trend

‘Ghost Government’ operating without any real oversight from elected officials

ASHLAND — Special taxing districts in Kentucky take in about $1 billion annually in tax revenues and fees but spend $2.7 billion each year collectively without any real public oversight by elected officials, according to a new report out by Adam Edelen, Kentucky’s Auditor of Public Accounts. The report is the first of its kind on the more than 1,268 special taxing districts in the state, which Edelen has refered to as Kentucky’s “Ghost Government.” 

In June, his office launched the massive Citizen Auditor’s initiative aimed at collecting basic organizational and financial information on each special taxing district and publishing it in a public online database for tax payers. The site, CitizenAuditor.ky.gov was launched last week at the same time Edelen’s initial report was published.

The results of what’s being called the “most massive effort in the history of the auditor’s office” are startling. According to the report, “In 117 of our 120 counties, taxpayers collectively pay more to these special districts than they do to their elected county governments.” A full 50 percent of special taxing districts with annual budgets over $750,000 did not have required yearly audits and 40 percent of districts failed to submit any budget information to their respective fiscal courts and 15 percent did not file Uniform Financial Information Reports with the state Department of Local Government.

According to an examination of the database, local special taxing districts in Boyd, Carter and Greenup Counties largely mirrored the statewide trend in that many are not in full compliance with reporting and financial requirements.

Greenup County

According to the State Auditor’s office, Greenup County has 17 special districts. Of those, only four completed and turned in all the information to the auditors office and are listed as being in complete compliance. They are: Boyd and Greenup County Sanitation District No. 1, the Greenup County Conservation District, Greenup County Public Library and the Maloneton Volunteer Fire Department.

Three agencies, the Appalachian Foothills Housing Agency, the Boyd County Greenup Riverport Authority and the Lloyd Volunteer Fire Department failed to submit any documentation to the Auditor’s office and are listed as being non-compliant.

The remaining 10 agencies submitted some, but not all, of the documentation the auditor’s office asked for. The Ashland Regional Airport Board, the Eastern Greenup County Ambulance District, Greenup County Cooperative Extension District, Greenup County Public Health Department, Little Sandy Fire Department, Load Volunteer Fire Department, Northeast Kentucky Regional Industrial Authority, Oldtown Volunteer Fire Department, South Shore Fire Department and Wurtland Fire Department.

Boyd County

Boyd County has 20 special taxing districts, according to the auditor’s office and had a much better compliance rate than other surrounding counties.

Only two agencies failed to turn in any materials to the auditor’s office. They were: The Boyd County Tourism Commission and the Greenup Boyd Riverport Authority.

Three other agencies, the Westwood Fire Department, Ashland Housing Authority and Boyd County Cooperative Extension District did not turn in all the requested materials.

Fifteen agencies were listed as in complete compliance with the auditor’s office. they are: Big Sandy Fire Department, Big Sandy Water District, Boyd County Ambulance District, Boyd County Conservation District, Boyd County Library District, Boyd County Public Health Department, Boyd County Sanitation District No. 2, Boyd County Sanitation District 4, Cannonsburg Fire Department, Cannonsburg Water District, East Fork Fire Department, England Hill Fire Department, Fivco Area Development District, Fivco Solid Waste District, and Summit-Ironville Fire Department.

Carter County

By contrast, Carter County has the smallest number of special districts compared to its neighbors, but has fewer in compliance with the auditor’s office.

The Carter County Cooperative Extension District and Northeast Kentucky Community Action Agency are the only two listed in complete compliance. The Olive Hill Housing Authority is the only agency that did not submit any information to the auditor’s office.

The Carter County Conservation District, the Carter County Emergency Ambulance Service and the Carter County Health Taxing District failed to submit their budgets to the auditor’s office in time for publication. The Rattlesnake Ridge Water District did not complete the auditor’s survey but did submit their budget.

Over the coming weeks and months, The Independent will be examining the non-compliant special taxing districts, gathering basic information about these districts, who is running them, how much revenue they collect and how they spent it.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • newwendy1.jpg Ashland woman develops pregnancy journals for mom, dad

    An Ashland woman has a way of helping parents everywhere.
    Wendy Sparks, 47, wrote The journals, which are for parents to keep for themselves and their children during pregnancy.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0420eggs0051.jpg Acres and acres of eggs

    A dozen volunteers spent the morning Saturday scattering more than 6,000 plastic eggs around the Greenup County Farm Bureau’s 10-acre field Saturday morning.
     

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Volunteers to pack thousands of meals for hungry Haitians

    Members of the First Baptist Church in Grayson are planning for the third year in a row to pack thousands of meals for starving people in Haiti, and they need help to do it.
     

    April 19, 2014

  • Sheriff candidates ready for election

    With no incumbent in the Boyd County Sheriff’s race, Republican and Democrat candidates for the post will square off in their respective primaries next month.
     

    April 19, 2014

  • 0419sciencehs.JPG Russell High School wins State Science Olympiad

    The long ride home from Bowling Green was tinged with disappointment for Russell High School students who believed they’d finished as also-rans in the state Science Olympiad last weekend.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0419sciencems.JPG Russell Middle School state Science Olympiad champions

    From identifying hundreds of insects to designing and operating mechanical contraptions that just look like insects, a team of Russell Middle School students took their research and technical skills to the Science Olympiad in Bowling Green last week and came back state champions.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0419melodies0148.jpg Kitchen jazzes up downtown lunch hour

    Some came to enjoy the relaxing sounds of cool jazz and traditional tunes at lunch, while others attended in hopes of picking up a few tricks from a master musician as guitarist Chris Kitchen kicked off the Melodies & Masterpieces concert series in downtown Ashland Friday afternoon.

    April 18, 2014 4 Photos

  • Sparks, Waddell in Carter Coronor’s race

    Incumbent George A. Sparks of Grayson will face challenger William Waddell of Olive Hill in the Democratic primary election for the Carter County coroner’s seat.

    April 18, 2014

  • 04/18/2014 — What's Happening

    Local news

    April 18, 2014

  • Bill3.jpg 'Dreams'

    It was in her own death that Donna Schoonover helped William Schoonover redefine his life.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo