Cities: Constitution change needed to make towns more competitive

Issue could end up on ballot next year

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky voters may have a chance next year to make a decision that could be the foundation for economic change.

At least that was the message Tuesday from city and county leaders, including Versailles Mayor Mayor Brian ​Traugott who is president of the Kentucky League of Cities, and economic development experts to state lawmakers.

The local leaders said the state’s constitution must be changed to give the Legislature the ability to give local governments more revenue options. Of particular interest is a local option sales tax that would take pressure off payroll taxes that many say put Kentucky at a disadvantage when trying to attract residents and jobs against states like Tennessee and Indiana.

And without changing the Constitution, real change can’t happen economically, supporters said.

“The Lexington region, the nine-county region is at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to our local and state taxation policies when you compare us to other states. Our lack of flexibility when it comes to local taxing policies really is an impediment to competing with those cities for jobs and people,” Commerce Lexington’s Andi Johnson told the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government.

“But without having the Constitutional change, we can take as much input as we want to, we can make notes, we can rough out things but to actually make a real transformational change there is no real potential other than chipping around the edges,” added state Rep. Michael  Meredith, a Republican from Oakland.

The Legislature likely will be asked in January to put the Constitutional change on the November 2022 ballot for voters to decide.

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