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Metro Newsroom

Community Investment Commission Proposed

Wednesday February 12, 2014

Group would advise on local option projects

A group of 18 citizens and elected officials would be responsible for helping propose which capital projects could be put to voters in a citywide referendum and funded with a temporary one percent sales tax, under a proposal announced today.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Metro Council President Jim King and Bill Dieruf Mayor of Jeffersontown and president of the Jefferson County League of Cities, have proposed the creation of the Community Investment Commission. It would be charged with gathering community input on what building projects could be put on the ballot under the local option sales tax, now being considered in the Kentucky General Assembly.

Among other things, the commission would hold public meetings and develop a potential list of building projects and create cost estimates -- and then forward the findings and recommendations to the Metro Council, which has the final authority to decide what projects are put on the ballot.

The commission’s 18 members (17 voting, 1 non-voting chair) would include:

  • Six (6) citizens appointed by Metro Mayor (three from A/B/C former county commission districts inside the Urban Services District; three from the A, B and C districts outside the Urban Services District);
  • Seven (7) representatives from the Metro Council, appointed by Metro Council President and they would represent the partisan balance on the Council at time of appointment;
  • Four (4) representatives from the Jefferson County League of Cities, representing the 82 small cities within Jefferson County.

The commission would hold public meetings and conduct online forums to gather citizen input and recommend which projects would be put to voters for approval or denial.

The Metro Council must approve the projects by a majority vote before they are sent to voters. If the Metro Council wanted to amend, delete or add a project or projects, it would require a supermajority vote (60 percent).

Fischer, King and Dieruf said the commission structure ensures that there is wide representation of urban and suburban citizens, both elected and non-elected, and those who live in and outside of the Urban Services District (the boundaries of the former city of Louisville prior to merger).

“This is a citizen-driven process -- ultimately it’s up to the voters to decide if they like the proposed projects. The power is in their hands, both at the commission level and in the voting booth,” Fischer said.

“This proposal allows for citizen and suburban input without affecting the autonomy the elected Metro Council ,” said King, who presented the concept this morning during the first meeting of the council’s work group on local option. “I believe this concept will work, but Council members will ultimately decide individually if they agree with this approach.”

The work group will meet again at 11 a.m. Monday to hear more details from Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, Fischer’s Chief of Strategic Initiatives and Deputy Chief of Staff.

Dieruf said the investment commission is a fair way to advise on projects -- and it ensures that suburban cities are at the table in a significant way.

"We are all interested in the people's right to vote on how they want the city to progress into the future,” Dieruf said. "With 82 cities and Metro Louisville all working together we can accomplish great things for all in our community."

The proposal for the commission follows the introduction of the local option bill in the Kentucky Senate by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville.

Hornback's bill would amend Section 181 of the Kentucky Constitution to allow for up to a one percent sales tax that would be levied in a city or county for specific capital projects. The projects and the tax would be put to voters in a referendum and, if approved by a majority, money collected would be used for the project or projects -- and when the projects are paid for, the tax goes away.

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