Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 27, 2013

Thayer wants more oversight for special taxing districts

FRANKFORT — State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, made clear Wednesday he wants a bill to provide transparency and accountability for special taxing districts to go beyond what Auditor Adam Edelen and House Speaker Greg Stumbo have urged.

Edelen appeared before the Senate State Government Committee to explain the bill, which passed the House 96-1.

It would require all special taxing districts to submit financial reports to the state Department of Local Government, which would post the information on a central online database where the public could view them.

The law would authorize DLG to alert Edelen of any district that was out of compliance with requirements for audits or financial reports which would then trigger a special examination by the auditor. And it would require special taxing districts to conform to the local government’s Code of Ethics.

But that’s not enough, Thayer suggested.

“I’m not quite sure the bill goes as far as I’d like it to as far as oversight,” Thayer said.

He went on to suggest that it could be improved by requiring all such districts to submit their tax rates or requests for increases to the local fiscal court.

Edelen disagreed.

He said that sounds good in theory but won’t work so well in practice. Doing that will make the districts component elements of county governments, he said, and that means the districts’ debt obligations and finances could affect the county’s own bond rating.

Edelen said it is also unnecessary because most districts are in compliance; the provisions of the bill passed by the House will require those not already in compliance to become compliant or face additional scrutiny and possibly even dissolution.

And finally, Edelen said, nearly every special taxing district’s board members are appointed by the fiscal courts.

But Thayer said without that oversight by elected officials, the special taxing districts essentially provide “taxation without representation.”

“I am trying to develop a committee sub (to HB 1) for this committee to consider before this goes to the Senate floor,” Thayer said. “I hope we can come to some kind of agreement so this can pass this session.”

The bill, as passed by the House, is supported by a variety of groups, including counties, libraries and other associations of taxing districts.

But many of those have said they will not support the measure if it includes requirement of tax rates and budgets by fiscal courts.

And Edelen has told those groups he can’t support that provision either.

Several high-profile special taxing districts like Metro Sewer District in Louisville and the Bluegrass Airport in Lexington have in recent years been exposed for wasteful and questionable spending. But Edelen’s review of taxing districts last fall found most are in compliance of current reporting regulations.

For instance, out of 106 library districts, all 106 were in compliance — and some libraries were created by voter referendum and are not created under statutes that establish special taxing districts.

Most special taxing districts were created after passage of House Bill 44 in the late 1970s capping the rate at which property taxes can increase.

That put pressure on local governments who also faced pressure from citizens seeking such services as water and sewer or fire departments. County governments often created the districts to provide needed services for which the fiscal court didn’t have the funding resources.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Judge denies renewed motion to dismiss Rosen lawsuit

    A judge has refused to dismiss a former Boyd district and circuit judge’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a law that affects his ability to run for re-election this fall.
    In an order entered on Friday, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas D. Wingate denied a renewed motion to dismiss by current Boyd Circuit Judge George W. Davis III, an intervening respondent in the suit filed in January by Marc I. Rosen.

    April 23, 2014

  • Ashland football players join special-needs students for prom

    The purple chiffon gown and the sparkling tiara are back in the closet four days after the big dance, but Karina McBride still hasn’t stopped talking about Saturday night — the decorations, boys bringing her cups of punch, her first kiss (on the cheek, her mother hastens to interject), and dancing the night away at her first prom.
    “She’s been flying high since that night,” said Michele Woods, who is Karina’s mother and who brought together friends and volunteers to organize a prom for special needs students.

    April 23, 2014

  • Concrete pouring at Putnam

    Workers are pouring concrete foundations at Putnam Stadium and once those are dry and cured will be ready to install seats at the historic arena.
    The workers are putting in 12-hour shifts to keep on schedule to complete the stadium’s reconstruction in time for this fall’s football opener, said site supervisor Craig Chinn of Trace Creek Construction.
    The most visible work is happening on the home-team side of the stadium, where workers Tuesday were setting forms for the cylindrical concrete piers that will support the seats. Once those are poured, cured and inspected they will add the seats.

    April 23, 2014

  • Unique races for Carter magistrates

    Carter County magistrate ballots are full of candidates eager to represent constituents in each of the five districts that make up the county’s fiscal court.
    Of the five seats available, three magistrates are seeking re-election: Clarence “Sonny” Fankell, D-Grayson, District 2; Clifford “Sodbuster” Roe, D-Olive Hill, District 4; and Brandon Burton, R-Olive Hill, District 5.
    The incumbents will each have to battle as many as three opponents in their district primaries next month before they can focus on reclaiming their magistrate titles in the November general election.
    This year’s magistrate race will host a total of 22 candidates, with 11 from Grayson, nine from Olive Hill and two from Denton.

    April 23, 2014

  • Martin County marks 50 years since LBJ visit

    Today marks 5o years since former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson visited Inez resident Tom Fletcher and promised to end poverty in America on April 24, 1964. On Friday, Inez will be commemorating the occasion with a special event.

    April 23, 2014

  • Trail Town trial run to be in Olive Hill this Sunday

    Olive Hill will participate in a trial run this Saturday in the city’s push to become a certified Kentucky Trail Town.

    April 23, 2014

  • Some area farmers may be eligible for LIP program

    The Grayson  Farm Service Agency, (Boyd, Carter, Elliott and Lawrence) is having registration for the Livestock Indemnity Program to eligible producers who suffered losses beginning Oct. 1, 2011, and subsequent years.

    April 23, 2014

  • News in brief, 04/24/14

    The King’s Daughters Pregancy and Infant Loss Support Group invites families who have experienced the loss of an infant during pregnancy or following birth to participate in a butterfly release and prayer ceremony at 2 p.m. May 10 at the Ashland Central Park fountain.

    April 23, 2014

  • Garner hosting National Day of Prayer activities

    The Garner Missionary Baptist Church will be hosting day long events at the Kyova Mall to commemorate the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 1.

    April 23, 2014

  • Flatwoods mayoral debate set for Tuesday

    A public debate among the candidates seeking to become the next mayor of Flatwoods will take place next week.

    April 22, 2014