Calloway County Judge Executive Larry Elkins said if elected to state representative he would dedicate time to reforming special taxing districts.
These districts include sanitation, libraries and other quasi-governmental public service entities.
As judge executive, Elkins has had an ongoing feud with the local library and their proposed expansion. Elkins said an expansion would raise taxes. The library board has said it would not raise taxes.
Elkins said it’s unfair for non-elected officials to be able to raise taxes and wants state legislators to look into the authority of special taxing districts and “their lack of oversight.”
“State auditor Adam Edelen, that was his signature issue as the state auditor. He called them ‘ghost governments.’ I think he was correct, I think at that time the state legislature didn’t go as far on reforms for special taxing districts as they could have," said Elkins.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported in 2012 that an auditors report by Edelen’s office showed that special taxing districts in Kentucky collected more than $1.5 billion each year. Edelen was critical of these taxing districts, which he said: “had little oversight and no one watching to see how taxpayers' money is spent.” A 2012 article by Pulaski County newspaper the Commonwealth Journal reported that Edelen looked to public libraries as a model for other taxing districts. He said, “we’ve actually held libraries up ... because they have accountabilities built into the system.”
Elkins said he would seek reforms not specific to libraries, but all special taxing districts.
The Kentucky legislature passed a bill in 2013 that established audit requirements for these districts and required an annual budget and to publicize where the adopted budget and other financial information relating to the district may be found.
Elkins is running unopposed in the May primary. He will face Democrat Dave Ramey in the November election. Kentucky's 5th house district includes Calloway County and part of Trigg County.
This story has been updated.