FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 13, 2013) — Legislation that would increase transparency of the state’s more than 1,200 special taxing districts cleared the Kentucky General Assembly on Tuesday without opposition.
Based in part on recommendations by the State Auditor, House Bill 1, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, would create an online public registry that would include taxing district’s annual budgets and other information. The website would be maintained by the Department for Local Government.
Supporters of the measure say it would add accountability to special taxing districts and would help taxpayers know how public money is being spent.
Special taxing districts include public library boards, fire departments and water and sewer districts. They are found in 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties and spend more than $2.7 billion annually, by some estimates.
The bill would establish ethics and education standards for special taxing districts and stiffen penalties if they do not comply with auditing and reporting standards.
As agreed upon in a free conference committee, the bill would also require all special taxing districts to submit a budget report to their local fiscal court. If a special district adopted a new fee or increased the rate of an existing tax, it would be required to hold a public meeting prior to the change.
House Bill 1 now goes to the governor for his consideration.