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Auditor Adam Edelen to State Senators: Don't Amend Special Taxing Districts Bill

State Auditor Adam Edelen is encouraging Senate lawmakers not to tweak the special district taxing district reform bill, which is largely based on his proposals from a report last year.

The Senate State and Local Government committee discussed the bill for more than an hour, but did not vote on House Bill 1 because Sen. Damon Thayer says he's attempting to amend the bill.  Thayer's main concerns are giving control of a new registry of special districts to the Department of Local Government and that local elected officials often don't have control of a special district.

"Maybe we're rushing here, maybe we should take more time and figure out the oversight aspects of this because it's a problem," said Thayer, the majority floor leader and a Republican from Georgetown.

A special taxing district is usually a library board or sewer district that can raise fees or taxes but isn't under the scope of local governments. Late last year, Edelen issued a report stating that Kentucky's special taxing districts weren't filing required budgets or audits,though they collectively spend more money than the state spends on Medicaid or infrastructure.

But Edelen said he doesn't favor Thayer's approach, because it would expand county governments and hurt the funding ability of both a local government and a special district.

Edelen said the change is needed by the laws currently addressing special district are way outdated.

"Not only did they miss the agricultural era in Kentucky, they missed the manufacturing era and now we're in the digital era. And we've got to have a system that does a better job of explaining everybody's obligations as stewards of the public tax dollars," Edelen said.

The bill was not voted on in committee, because senators are working on amendments to the legislation. 

Kenny Colston is the Frankfort Bureau Chief for Kentucky Public Radio (a collaborative effort of public radio stations in Kentucky). Colston has covered Kentucky's Capitol and state government since 2010. He is a Louisville native, and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. When he's not tracking down stories about Kentucky politics, you can often find him watching college sports, particularly football.
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