Paducah Chamber members urge state lawmakers to support local option sales tax

Paducah’s chamber of commerce members and other west Kentucky leaders traveled to Frankfort Thursday. They’re  urging lawmakers to amend the state constitution to allow local cities the option of increasing their sales tax to pay for it. 

Right now, Kentucky does not allow communities the option of increasing the sales tax to fund infrastructure or quality of life projects. The proposal would allow an increase of up to 1-percent. The increase would go away once the project is complete. Western Kentucky could gain millions of dollars in added revenue.

A small business owner Crystal Troutt knows quality of life in any community is a factor in deciding where to live and how you spend your money. "Bring people to not only visit, but also want to move here and live here and raise their families here," she said.

That’s the hope behind a bill currently in the state legislature that would allow cities to increase sales taxes to fund local projects. It’s gaining momentum with other business owners including the founder of CSI, John Williams Sr. 

"This is a bill that very much deserves support to enhance the quality of life and the competitiveness of Kentucky," Williams said. 

The Kentucky League of Cities estimates Paducah could gain $17 million a year from the tax increase.

Williams would like to see that added revenue pay for better technology in classrooms and for an attractive sports park. "From a long-term standpoint, I think we need to focus as much on education as possible," he said.

McCracken County Judge Executive Bob Leeper says voters would ultimately decide how the money will be pumped back into the community.

"I think the concept is good," Leeper said. "It would allow the constituents to vote on the package that comes forth, which will be up to local officials to put together a package that applicable to our area."

Lawmakers here in the House and Senate have about two months left in this year’s legislative session. All bill currently under consideration must be voted on before they adjourn April 12.

Paducah city commissioners passed a non-binding resolution last year supporting the local option sales tax.

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