Sales tax proposal faces uphill climb - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

  • Are you in favor of adding a 1% Special Option Sales tax to your purchases in Jefferson County?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Yes, if it helps benefit the community
    11%
    12 votes
    No, our taxes are high enough already
    88%
    100 votes
    Doesn't bother me either way
    1%
    1 vote

Sales tax proposal faces uphill climb

Posted: Updated:
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's request to allow voters to increase their own taxes faces an uphill climb. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's request to allow voters to increase their own taxes faces an uphill climb.
Carol Besse Carol Besse
Louisville Metro Council member Ken Fleming Louisville Metro Council member Ken Fleming

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's request to allow voters to increase their own taxes faces an uphill climb, as opinions remain mixed in the Metro about the proposal's costs.

A local option sales tax, which isn't currently legal in Kentucky, would temporarily add up to 1 percent onto the cost of many goods in Metro Louisville to pay for specific building projects.

"The citizens would help decide what projects are put on the ballot for a vote," Fischer said in a tweet, declining to name specific projects he'd like to see.

Fischer testified Wednesday in Frankfort to state lawmakers, who would need to put the question to voters statewide whether to change Kentucky's constitution and allow local sales taxes. Many lawmakers have expressed doubt over the proposal.

If voters approved and Louisville leaders pursued a tax for a certain project, local voters would decide again whether to allow it.

They'd be voting to raise their taxes by about $188 for a family of four people, according to a University of Louisville study released earlier this month.

The Urban Studies Institute report, commissioned by Republican Metro Councilman Ken Fleming, indicated that Louisville has the third-highest total tax burden of 14 peer cities, including Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Nashville.

[CLICK TO READ THE REPORT]

Louisville would move to second place on the ranking with an additional 1 percent local sales tax, increasing the average family's tax burden to $11,669 per year, the study indicated.

While the total tax burdens are lower in many of the peer cities, most of them already have a local tax option, Fischer said.

The study suggested the additional tax could raise $138 million a year.

Carol Besse, the co-owner of Carmichael's Bookstore in Louisville, said she didn't think a tax approved by local voters would harm her business.

"I think it could be a good idea, and what I like about it is that there would be local control," she said.

Customers would still likely purchase a $20 book if they had to pay an extra 20 cents in tax, Besse said.

But Louisville Metro Council member Ken Fleming doubted whether the tax would indeed be temporary and only for targeted projects.

"You still have to have some mechanism for maintenance (of the project) down the road," Fleming said. "There will always be a need and that leads to, there will probably always be a tax."

Most goods would fall under the sales tax, but current exemptions for vehicles, food, medicine and utilities would continue, Fischer said.

Copyright 2013 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.