State Auditor Adam Edelen is hoping lawmakers can reach an agreement next week on a proposal to better regulate more than 1,200 special taxing districts across Kentucky, what Edelen calls “ghost government.” Special taxing districts include local airport boards, water districts, and community action agencies. The bill has passed the House and Senate, but the Senate’s version would give oversight of the taxing districts to county governments, something Edelen opposes.
The Kentucky Senate is preparing to act on a bill reforming the hundreds of special taxing districts in the state.
Many local library boards, sewer districts and fire districts are considered special taxing districts, with the power to levy taxes, but without direct oversight from local government. A recent investigation from the state auditor's office found many of the districts lacked proper oversight and documentation.
The Kentucky House is voting today on legislation that would strengthen oversight of the state's more than 1,200 local taxing districts. The vote was postponed yesterday. The House Committee on Local Government approved the legislation Wednesday. The measure sets up a system for auditing the taxing districts, which spend some $2.7 billion a year to operate rural fire departments, airports, sanitation districts and even libraries. It would also create an online database where taxpayers could review financial reports for each taxing district.
Taken together, Kentucky's special taxing districts spend more money than the state spends on Medicaid and infrastructure -- and nearly half of those districts are not following rules on filing budgets or submitting audits, said a report from State Auditor Adam Edelen released Wednesday.