Kentucky Club for Growth
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April 27, 2012

The Facts of the Boone County Parks Tax

The Kentucky Club for Growth sends out a bi-weekly email on issues important to the Kentucky taxpayer. Below is the email we sent out yesterday.

Making Excuses for Tax Increases

Recently, the effort in Boone County to increase property taxes to create a $48 million "Parks Fund" has been in the news again.  Americans for Tax Reform, a vanguard of protection for the American taxpayer, decided to release an evaluation of the "revenue neutrality" of the effort.  Dealing with apparently limited information, they wrote that the Parks Tax effort was revenue neutral and not a tax increase:

Americans for Tax Reform "In late summer, 2008, the Boone County Fiscal Court passed a resolution proposing a 2.2 cent tax rate on property be referred to the General Election ballot. The objective of the tax rate increase was to raise funds for public parks. To offset the rate increase, and thus make the resolution revenue-neutral, tax rates in several other taxing districts were lowered. The Health Department rolled back their property tax rate from 2.0 to 1.9 cents, the Boone County Public Library Board of Trustees rolled back their tax rate from 6.3 to 5.0 cents, and the Boone County Cooperative Extension District Board lowered their rate from 1.9 to 1.6 cents. The net reduction of these combined taxing districts equaled the 2.2 cent increase put on the ballot in 2008.

"While ATR has no opinion on the quality of the proposal, we do believe the proposal was revenue-neutral and not a tax hike."

Unfortunately, this is not the entire story of the Boone County Parks Tax Increase.

Read the rest here...

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April 23, 2012

Why the Boone County Parks Tax Should Still Concern Taxpayers

On Friday, Americans for Tax Reform announced that they had reviewed the 2008 effort to create a new 2.2% tax for parks in Boone County. In a statement, they found the effort to be revenue-neutral and not a tax increase. ATR's assessment is based on the fact that the 2.2% increase was offset by corresponding tax cuts by other taxing authorities:

The Health Department rolled back their property tax rate from 2.0 to 1.9 cents, the Boone County Public Library Board of Trustees rolled back their tax rate from 6.3 to 5.0 cents, and the Boone County Cooperative Extension District Board lowered their rate from 1.9 to 1.6 cents. The net reduction of these combined taxing districts equaled the 2.2 cent increase put on the ballot in 2008.

So the effort, which failed 67%-33% at the ballot box, was designed to be revenue-neutral, but the creation of a new tax should not be trusted.

The effort involved four different taxing authorities. The county government would levy the new parks tax in addition to the County's general authority to tax property, while each of the other taxing entities - the County Board of Health, the County Public Library Board, and the Boone County Cooperative Extension Board - all have independent authority to levy, reduce and raise taxes.

Once the new parks tax was created, it would create a new 2.2% property tax on the citizens of Boone County in perpetuity. However, Boone County Taxpayers have no guarantee that the reductions provided by the other boards would remain. The initiative would have created a brand new way for the county government to tax citizens' property, while the Health Board, Library Board, Cooperative Extension and the county government itself are free to annually raise rates. While the initiative may have been revenue neutral on the ballot, it would simply create a new tax floor for the future that would be even more difficult for citizens to challenge.

New taxes are just another open door for the government to commandeer citizens' wealth to support the government's spending proclivity. The Kentucky Club for Growth will continue to support leaders who stand against tax increases and new taxes.

April 20, 2012

Golf or Firefighters Part II

For the second time in as many days, Lexington's citizens have been placed at increased risk from the city's choice to "brownout" fire protection services. From today's Herald Leader:

A fire on Sheridan Drive on Thursday burned unchecked for several minutes, destroying a family's kitchen, because the nearest fire engine had temporarily been taken out of service.

It took seven minutes for firefighters from Station 20, about 2½ miles away, to get to the scene, officials said. Station 12, which is less than a half-mile away, was unoccupied due to a "brownout."

The delayed response was the second incident in two days that drew attention to the practice of brownouts, periods when the city takes fire engines out of service for hours or days to save money.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government has made a policy choice that brownouts of fire protective services are an effective way to save money.

They have also continued to place a priority on operating five public golf courses at a significant loss.

In 2011, Lexington golf operations budgeted $4.36 million worth of expenses while receiving $2.50 million in revenues, totaling a deficit of $1.86 million. In 2011, 88,706 rounds were played on Lexington-owned golf courses. That's a subsidy of $21 every time a golfer teed-up. Eighty-eight thousand times.

These golf courses are operated continuously year-round, rain or snow, never closed or "browned out".

The annual budget is the ultimate statement of policy priorities. If Lexington's mayor and city council wish to prioritize public safety, they have an opportunity to demonstrate it in the 2013 budget.

April 19, 2012

Golf or Firefighters?

We have repeatedly used this space to bring attention to the fact that the City of Lexington owns and operates too many golf courses at a great cost to the Lexington taxpayer.

Lexington's budget reports [show] a decline from 152,000 rounds in FY 2006 to only 107,565 in FY 2010. The 45,000 round decline is 50% higher than the total number of rounds played on Lexington's most popular golf course in 2009 (30,161 played at Lakeside). Lexington has lost 50% more than an entire golf course worth of rounds played.

Yet, Lexington continues to keep operating without change, devoting tax dollars to maintaining a singular type of recreation for fewer and fewer people.

The Lexington Herald-Leader's editorial board supports this policy of 'no change in subsidizing Lexington's golfers no matter what it costs'. When Councilman Doug Martin recently proposed reducing Lexington's golf surplus, the board falsely editorialized that:

Whatever the aim, the effort remains what it always was: a cynical and heavy-handed attempt by a handful of developers who overreached during the '90s golf boom, to use the pinched city budget to redirect play from the city courses onto their own.

It's not cynical. There is an obvious opportunity cost to the city, which repeatedly chooses to lose $1 million operating golf courses over other public priorities.

One choice the city has regularly made in recent years is to "brownout" local fire stations in order to afford this massive subsidy of golf.

According to a LEX18 report this morning, such brownouts can be life-threatening:

When Lexington's mayor and city council choose to spend one million dollars to subsidize golf, they are making a simultaneous choice not to spend that one million dollars to keep this fire station open. It is a ridiculous statement of priorities.

Maybe this poor individual should have pulled into the nearest city golf course. Unlike fire stations, Lexington golf courses are open year-round, rain, snow, hail or shine.

April 9, 2012

Tax Day Tea Parties

Thanks to the NKY Tea Party...

Tea Party Rallies Across Kentucky

Owensboro
The "Owensboro Tax Day Rally" will be held in Chautauqua Park on April 14th from 12:00 - 2:00 pm. Mr. Jim Waters & Bill Vermillion will be among their guest speakers as well as local candidates who are running for local offices. Also speaking will be candidates for State Senators and State Representatives in the Owensboro area.

Louisville
"Now More Than Ever" Rally featuring Kevin Jackson, Mandy Connell, and Senator Rand Paul. Thursday, April 19th, 6-8pm The Grand Belle Room Ramada Plaza Hurstbourne

Cincinnati
"Tax Day Rally" Fountain Square-Downtown Cincinnati, Sunday, April 15 from 3:00PM till 5:00PM. Music by Gun Metal Gray.

Northern Kentucky
Have you had enough already? How is that "Hope and Change" working for you? Start planning now to travel to the Boone County Fairgrounds on Saturday April 28th for the second event in the NKY Tea Party "End Of An Error" series of events. If you are a candidate put this on your schedule as this event is three weeks and a couple days from the May primary. All signs point to a brokered presidential convention so your primary votes take on a greater significance. Mark your calender now- April 28th at the Boone County Fair Grounds. Contact newsletter@nkyteaparty.org for more information.

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The KY Club for Growth seeks principled candidates who are committed to the following:

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