FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 7, 2013) — A bill aimed at increasing transparency and accountability of the state’s special taxing districts was approved Tuesday by the Kentucky Senate.
House Bill 1, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, would require “special purpose government entities” in the state to submit administrative and financial information to the Department of Local Government. That information would then be posted in an online registry and available to the public.
The bill would apply to more than 1,300 special taxing districts in the state that raise and spend approximately $4 billion in public money annually, according to Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown. These entities include public library boards and fire and water districts, among others. They are found in more than 117 Kentucky counties.
As amended by the Senate, the bill also would give fiscal courts the power to veto certain tax increases proposed by special districts. It would also make the results of audits of districts covered under the legislation available for public review on the online registry, Thayer said.
The Senate changes to House Bill 1 “add much-needed oversight to special districts across the commonwealth,” he said.
The measure was passed on a 23-10 vote. Opponents of the bill cited concerns about allowing fiscal courts veto power over the taxing districts.
House Bill 1 now goes back to the House of Representatives for consideration of the Senate changes.