KACo's 2020 legislative priorities were released at a recent Interim Joint Committee on Local Government session and includes solutions and approaches to the most serious issues facing counties.
The number one legislative issue in 2020 is transportation funding. In a recent poll of KACo officials, a majority indicated that more than 40 percent of their county roads were in need of repair and one-quarter said that more than 60 percent of their roads needed repair.
“Our top priority is transportation funding, and it’s one of yours as well,” Boone County Judge/Executive and KACo President Gary Moore told committee members. “The needs of the state are well documented. We have made great strides in our economic development efforts, and we know how vital good roads are to job creation. But the bottom line is, we all need more money for roads.”
In the KACo poll, 93 percent agreed that the gas tax needs to be raised, with nearly half supporting at least a 10 cent increase.
- Increase the gas tax and other transportation-related fees; establish fees for electric vehicles.
- Preserve the agreed-upon formula for distribution of funding to counties and cities.
The next priority for counties is jail relief. County jails are overcrowded and the costs of incarceration have continued to climb. A majority of members in the KACo poll said that jail costs are driving budget pressures. Counties want to be part of the solution.
“This jail crisis across Kentucky is no secret,” Madison County Judge/Executive and KACo President-elect Reagan Taylor told committee members. “It’s something every county faces whether they operate their own jail or partner with neighboring counties to house their inmates. At the end of the day, each county is financially responsible for their own incarcerated population.”
- Increase the state per diem rate.
- Pursue criminal justice reform.
- Broaden and fund substance abuse treatment.
- Reimburse credit for time served.
The final priority for KACo in 2020 is tax reform. Counties are being asked to do more with less. Limitations on revenue options coupled with ever increasing demands for services put county leaders in an impossible situation.
“We hear that our tax system at the state level is antiquated and makes us less competitive with the states around us,” Moore said. “Each time revenue options for local governments are explored, we are told to wait for comprehensive tax reform. If that happens, we ask for a seat at the table.
“Currently, when it comes to revenue options, our hands are tied,” Moore added. “We are just asking that you give us the right tools in our toolbox to build a better model to meet the needs of our communities.”
In the KACo poll, 62 percent said they would be somewhat or very likely to levy a local sales tax in their county while 38 percent indicated they were somewhat or very unlikely to support such a tax.
- Allow county sales tax authority.
- Allow counties to levy a restaurant tax.
- Increase optional fiscal court control over special purpose governmental entities.