Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

February 27, 2013

Fairer taxes needed but won’t get the vote


Feb. 27, 2013 —     Among the 54 recommendations from last year’s blue ribbon tax commission was one to allow cities and/or counties to let voters decide if they wanted to temporarily increase the state sales tax to pay for local capital projects.

    First, a constitutional amendment to permit local imposition of sales taxes would have to be approved by voters statewide.

    If that happened, cities and counties could go to their own voters with a proposal to add one percent on all state sales taxes collected in that jurisdiction to pay for new projects.

    The temporary sales tax would expire as soon as the project was paid off, like a “sunset clause”.

    Two of Kentucky’s leading newspapers, the Louisville Courier-Journal and The Morehead News, recently had polls on local sales taxes.

    The Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, found that 72 percent of its sample of 616 citizens favored the amendment to allow local referendums on sales taxes.

    However, many of those “yes” responders said they were not sure they then would vote the same way if their city or county tried to impose a local sales tax.

    Locally, The Morehead News conducted a non-scientific poll on its website. We asked readers if they would vote to add one percent to the state sales tax collected in Rowan County for the financing of capital projects, such as a new county jail.

    We received 405 responses through last Saturday and the results were overwhelmingly negative with 83 percent (335) opposing and only 17 percent (70) in favor.

    We believe that most Kentuckians realize governments at all levels need more money but the recession has created so many hardships on families that the anti-tax reaction is automatic.

    Moreover, the Tea Party and other “less is best” anti-government politicians don’t believe we are wisely using the tax revenue we already collect.

    However, in our opinion, Kentucky’s property owners should support the amendment and then each local referendum because it would mean that those who own property would not continue footing the bill for such improvements.

    Historically, Kentucky’s antiquated tax system has focused on what we own rather than what we spend, ignoring the “consumption” taxes like the sales tax on goods and services.

    The sad truth is that we don’t take advantage of the sales tax we have because of the high number of exemptions and the virtual exclusion of services.

    Hold the phone! A bill pending in the legislature would apply the sales tax to lottery tickets.

    Is nothing sacred?