Difference between revisions of "Citizens for Government Accountability"

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*cfgagov@yahoo.com
 
*cfgagov@yahoo.com
  
==January 2010 Newsletter==
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==Current Newsletter==
===Herald-Leader Uncovers Massive Personal Spending by KACo Leaders – Jody Jenkins on Board of Directors===
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This is the February 2013 CFGA newsletter.
As first reported locally on WMSK, the [[Lexington Herald-Leader]] (LHL), via use of the [[Kentucky Open Records Act]], uncovered that the top five officials with the [[Kentucky Association of Counties]] (KACo), had charged $600,000 on KACo credit cards over the past 2 years.  These bills are ultimately paid for by state taxpayers.  These charges were for travel, expensive meals, gifts for themselves and the other board members, and associates of KACo.  Most of the expenses were travel and hotel rooms, some at $450/night, but also charges at two [[Louisville, Kentucky | Louisville]] strip clubs, and a $445 bill with a [[Lexington, Kentucky | Lexington]] escort service.  It was also reported on WMSK that [[Union County, Kentucky | Union County]] Judge-Executive Jody Jenkins is on the board of directors at KACo.  
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Some of Judge Jenkins’ lavish trips that have been reported on in previous [[CFGA]] newsletters were KACo sponsored. We wonder how could someone with no political or business experience get elected judge-executive and put on the 34 member board of directors at [[Frankfort, Kentucky | Frankfort]] based KACo at the same time, unless you were a family friend of KACo Executive-Director Bob Arnold. Of Note:  Board members are paid  $100 a meeting in addition to their local salary, plus travel expenses to KACo, and other meetings, are billed back to county taxpayers. (see next news article for further details) 
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Ky. State Senator Dorsey Ridley
 
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Capitol Annex Room 255
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Frankfort, Ky. 40601
  
The Lexington Herald-Leader’s  June 28, 2009 article on KACo spending habits and it’s executive-director, Bob Arnold, embarrassed many elected people into long overdue action.  From the LHL’s  own time-line of events:  July 1st.; state auditor Crit Luallen announced her office would investigate KACo, and other agencies exposed in the LHL  newspaper articles.  July 16th;  '''''KACo Executive-Director Bob Arnold tells several hundred local officials at the summer Kentucky Judge-Executives and magistrates conference (which Union County Judge-Executive Jody Jenkins attended)  in regards to the excessive spending at taxpayer expense at KACo; they need to; quote: “get over it.”  The LHL reported he then received a standing ovation from the county leaders.'''''  August 16th;  The LHL details a string of firings earlier this decade by KACo’s  top executive  that cost the group/taxpayers nearly $2 million in lawsuits.  August 25th;  Bob Arnold states he is under no pressure by KACo board of directors to resign.  August 26th;  Lawmakers grill KACo and Ky. League of Cities officials over spending scandals reported by the LHL.  After the hearing [[Adam Koenig | Rep. Adam Koenig]] (R) [[Erlanger, Kentucky | Erlanger]], calls for Mr. Arnold to resign.  KACo board members praise Mr. Arnold for his work.  September 4th;  Bob Arnold resigns as KACo Executive-Director, but is allowed by his contract with the board to keep his $178,000 a year salary through 2010.  (we are unsure whether he gets to keep the use of the agency car; a BMW  S.U.V.) 
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Dear Senator Ridley;
  
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In regards to your letter dated Dec. 2012, requesting comments/input, the following items are of concern to us, as we have addressed them, and others, in many of our past CFGA newsletters.
  
KACo is a state organization providing insurance and financing to [[Kentucky Counties | Kentucky counties]]Purchasing insurance from KACo is not mandatory, however all counties pay a membership fee. In a  Sept. 22, 2009 meeting between Union County Judge-Exe. Jody Jenkins and CFGA Exe.-Director J.C. McElroy; Jenkins stated he had never taken bids for the insurance the county had with KACo. ( Union County paid $196,359 to KACo in the fiscal year ending  June 30, 2009)Of Note:  KACo is the agency  that Judge Jenkins and the magistrates of the Union County Fiscal Court  recently borrowed $1 million dollars from on behalf of  Breckinridge Services, in order to help them finance their nursing home and assisted living facility.
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==School Property Tax==
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Way too high for what we’ve gotten in return. If simply throwing money at the problem was the answer, then every Kentucky student would be ready for HarvardSchool issues have been reported in our newsletters dated Jan. ’08, July ’08, Jan. ’09, April 2010. Sept. 2010. The school tax portion of property taxes in Union County (U/C) are 61% of the total taxThis does not include school tax on other bills (utility, phone, etc.) The problem is too much administration cost going to operate the school system, whether a failing school or not, and not enough going into the classroomWhy does U/C school system need a $65,000/year public relations person?
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To correct the school tax issue we strongly suggest implementing similar school property tax legislation as to what former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels did regarding this issueAs much as we hate to brag on these yankee hoosiers; they lowered and capped school property taxes in their state, forced more of the money away from administration and into the classroom. They have a better national ranking than Ky. (not hard to do.) They don’t have a deficit, but enough of a surplus in govt. accounts that every taxpayer got a $300 credit toward their 2012 tax return. That is political leadership! 
  
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===$8 million for a new Catholic school?===
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As voted on and approved by the U/C fiscal court on Nov. 13, 2012; Union County helping the Owensboro diocese build a new school in Morganfield with the county’s aid of $8 million in bonding assistance may not equal the landmark 2010 separation of church and state case of University of Cumberland vs. Rev. Pennybacker, but it does concern us equally.  What precedent does this really set?  If any of the many protestant churches in the county ask for this kind of assistance will they get it?  It should be all treated equally or not at all.  – ''“What has been the effort of religious coercion?  But to make half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.”'' – Thomas Jefferson –1785.
  
The Lexington Herald-Leader won a national journalism award from the Associated Press for its series that includes the KACo ordeal titled  “Its Your Money”Their investigative reporting resulted in the firings and/or resignations of several heads of state/county/city agenciesYou can read the full articles by visiting their website at: [http://www.kentucky.com Kentucky.com] then click on the ‘watchdog’ link on their homepage. (It is great to see that not all newspapers are controlled by corrupt political parties and/or the local courthouse officials.) 
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==Predacious by nature; State/county bureaucracies equals higher taxes==
(info. for this story received via records request of u/c judge-exe office, year end financials, and herald-leader website)
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We understand it is the nature of government to create more government agencies, disguised as a benefit for the average citizenThere is no denying that good things can come from local boards of citizensThe problem arises when the ‘board’ requests and is granted taxing authority by its fiscal court. Most all of Ky. counties have various boards or commissions such as library, extension, health dept., etcNot all counties have granted them ‘taxing authority’.  Once granted, the fiscal court rarely has the courage to take away such taxing ability. Simply put, a board has a voice to make recommendations. Given taxing authority, they have the ability to tax for their benefit, which creates power.  And no one wants to give up power, especially to tax.  Everyone on such boards always thinks they can spend your money better than you, and do things they consider great. 
  
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The following are examples where state recommendations/oversight might help at the local level.
  
'''Notable quote: “If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformedIf you do read your local paper, you are misinformed”- Mark Twain'''
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===Union County Library Tax===
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A few years ago the board had accumulated roughly a half-million dollars in it’s tax funded account and voted to build onto the existing library at a cost of roughly $1 million. This in a county of less than 15 thousand people.  The rest was paid off via the state tax payers.  As with any of these projects, the county taxpayers are left with paying extra taxes to operate a large buildingFor the past two decades anyone with internet access can access any library in the world with just a few clicks, or download any book.  The glaring reality is when you look at your property tax bill and see the library tax is almost half of what the county gets to operate the entire county. The county often ‘supplements’ many of these buildings, as has been reported in our past newsletters, via open records request of the county.  We suggest that the fiscal court take away the library’s taxing authority.  Doing so might require a slight increase in the county portion of taxes, but it would still be less in overall property taxes. 
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We commend the citizens of Hopkins County for letting the magistrates there know a few years ago that if they granted taxing authority to their library board, as was requested, there would be new magistrates after the next election.  
  
===Caution Ahead:  Local Good Ole Boys at ‘Work’  With Your Tax Dollars===  
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===Extension Tax===
If you think lavish spending at taxpayer expense only happens with the ‘Good Ole Boys’  in Frankfort, think againUnion County is deep in  ‘Good Ole Boy’ traditionHowever, not all Kentucky counties spend tax dollars in this mannerUnfortunately the state good ole boys always praise the local elected good ole boys here as ‘leaders’, in order to play the public as fools to be fleeced, by keeping them in office.
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While we are of a farming/ranching background, it is troubling to many of us when we asked why the county extension service recently bought a large vacant piece of property next to them, and spent thousands more to clear the trees. The response was that it was voted on by the board. That they had a lot of money sitting in their account from taxes and interest didn’t pay anything these days.  When this becomes the situation then it seems they should give the money back to the taxpayer, or lower or eliminate the taxIt is a clear example of lack of oversight and true accountability that the new state auditor recently spoke of in regards to these types of boards. At a minimum there needs to be a state law regarding thisWe once again give reference to the Daniels plan enacted in Indiana; once a set level of tax is collect per fund/board, a tax credit is given to the taxpayer in the following years. Not go out and buy/build somethingWhen the library and extension tax are more than the health dept. tax, you know there is a strong lack of oversight at the fiscal court level.  
  
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===Elected Officials Associations===
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(covered in Jan.’09 newsletter) We strongly feel no elected officials should be allowed to form an association/union to lobby the legislature for higher pay/benefits.  It came to our attention several years ago in talks with the state auditor’s office regarding this matter.  While membership is voluntary, the roughly $1,000/year dues per office holder is usually charged back to the taxpayer as an office expense, (this fact found through our open records request and county budget).
  
The following information was gathered from our open records request to the Union County Judge’s Office for his county issued credit card records for the past two years, as well as the 2008-2009 fiscal year financial statements.  In all about 200 pages of county financials, credit card receipts, and travel vouchers.
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Example: in the late 1990’s the Ky. Jailers Assc. successfully lobbied the legislators to grant them by law equal pay to the county judge-executive.  All office holders seem to want more pay/benefits from the taxpayer.  What has been the benefit to the taxpayer?
*County Judge-Executive pay(Jody Jenkins): $72,813         
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*2006 Judge’s pay (Frank Eiter):  $64,144
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This figure does not include the extra pay Jenkins receives for being on the KACo board of directors.
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Current Union County magistrate pay is $15,000/yr. (to attend 2 fiscal court meetings a month, and to not ‘rock the boat’)
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'''Judge Jenkins and Fiscal Court Traveling at your expense''':  2008 out-of-county travel expenses for the county judge, magistrates, and treasurer was: $11,439.84  with Judge Jenkins accounting for $7,500 of this amount.  January to August 2009 records show: $7,607.96  in out-of-county travel expenses with Judge Jenkins accounting for  $4,742.81    Of Note:  Joe Clements was the only magistrate to not submit out of county travel expenses for re-imbursement by taxpayers.  We spoke to him by phone to confirm this.  He stated he did not believe the taxpayers should pay his hotel and meals on the road to meetings/conferences since participation is voluntary. We agree with this line of thinking.  It is why we pay a state representative to go to [[Frankfort, Kentucky | Frankfort]].  (The magistrate pay at just over $15,000 is twice what other counties of this size pay.)
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'''Cha-Ching!:  Judge Jenkins Has Taxpayer Credit Card – Will Travel''':    In past newsletters we have covered some of Judge Jenkins’ travel at taxpayer expense. The Czech Republic trip in 2007, New York City in May of 2008, and several more we have since learned of.  All trips were organized through GRADD or KACo;  organizations that Jenkins was appointed to board member status soon after being elected county judge-executive.  
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Total charges on the county credit card with the judge-executives name on it were $21,519.06  for the past fiscal year.  Although not all the charges were travel expenses for the judge, the out-of-county charges were for hotel rooms, meals, etc.  However, local dining establishments were also on the list of food/beverage charges. Not all travel expenses/meals are by county credit card, but also by re-imbursement from paid receipts submitted.
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“The Great Chicken Caper”: No receipt jumped out more to us than one of the smallest ones Judge Jenkins submitted for re-imbursement.  Just under $6.50 for a chicken basket, candy bar, and soft drink, purchased in [[Eddyville, Kentucky | Eddyville, Ky]].  Come on Jody!  Your paying yourself nearly $73k a year off the taxpayers, getting paid $100 a meeting to go to KACo board meetings in Frankfort, plus re-imbursement for travel, and you hit us for six dollars and change for a ‘blanking’ chicken basket meal.  GIVE US A BREAK! 
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'''Questionable Expenses from the Union County Financial Report''':
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*Nutri-System  $156.45   
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*Custom Biker Wear  $1,050.95
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One business owner and friend of Jody Jenkins donated nearly  $500  to the 2006 Jody Jenkins for Judge-Executive campaign, and went from receiving no contracts with the county to receiving nearly  $96,000 in county contracts between July 2008 and June 2009.  (information taken from union county expenditures by vendors, and Jody Jenkins 2006 campaign finance reports)
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'''Fools Rush In''':  In the 2006 judge-executive election several people did political endorsements stating they were for Jody Jenkins. They neglected to say why they were for a candidate to run the county’s business, even though he had no business, management or political experience. Just a good ole boy connection to some locals with connections to some people in Frankfort, who are the problem.  With the current Judge Jenkins taking trips all over the state, country, world, at taxpayer expense via his connections to KACo, and GRADD, one would think the people who did these ads are feeling a bit foolish by now.  Surely, no-one with any common sense could consider any of this as ’leadership’ in the right directionThe only good paying jobs that have been created here are the government jobs; two of which were appointed by the judge to do county business the judge used to do. (of note: alliance coal announce the new mine during the previous judge’s brief tenure).  We should mention that the fiscal court voted to spend nearly $850,000 to renovate the spec. building to accommodate EZ-Access and their 8 or so employees. 
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Re-electing people who misuse tax dollars, regardless of whether you like them or not, or are related to them, is the same as telling them it is okay to do so.  If we are not intelligent enough as voters to hold local officials accountable, then how can we expect change at any level of government.      Hopefully, the 2010 local election will provide a different outcome than usual, even though Judge-Exe. Jenkins appointed his own cousin, Trey Peak, to the county clerks position, who will oversee the vote count.  The CFGA directors have already contacted state and federal authorities to voice our concern on this matter. 
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===Area Development Districts (ADD’s)===
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We realize all counties by state statute must belong to yet another form of bureaucracy known as their area development district.  We feel this is a good place to save taxpayer money.  The true benefit of belonging to an ADD is questionable, especially with there being a department of local government (DLG) in Frankfort, as well as other agencies who are most helpful in answering questions on how to get things done.  We have reported in many past newsletters (via our open records requests) about the lavish trips, some to other countries, organized by ADD’s such as GRADD, at taxpayer expense, for the sole benefit of its directors, who are county judge-executives, and their families.  How can this be justified as a necessity to the taxpayer, and still ask for their vote.
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==Energy Points of Concern== 
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===Unmined minerals tax===
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We feel only coal, oil, gas, and corporations that derive the majority of their income from mineral holdings should have to pay this tax.  For all others, this tax is the equivalent of being taxed a percentage of the jackpot amount for simple buying a lottery ticket.  Only a bureaucrat would come up with such a tax, or a govt. that has already wasted enough money and needs an extra source to continue to waste.
  
===Occupational Tax:  Who Pays, and Who Doesn’t Have To===   
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===De-Monopolization with continued regulation===
Many have asked why coal miners don’t have to pay the occupational tax, when they are the only ones making good, stable pay.  Although we can not supply an adequate answer other than to ask the county judge or your magistrate, we do agree that the local small businessman, and those working for minimum wage, or slightly above, can ill afford to have one cent more taken from themThe occupational tax brought in $910,434 to the General Fund, with $600,000 being sent to the Jail FundThe Union County General Fund had a prior year surplus of $2,261,171Not uncommon for this county, which has CD’s in its various operating funds which establishes a yearly surplus per account. (figures taken from u/c financial statement f.y. 08-09) Of Note: The extra pay to the three women in the judge’s office to administer the tax is no longer paid through the fictitious office of assistant county treasurer.  It is now paid through another office that doesn’t exist;  county tax administrator.
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(covered in 4-10 newsletter) This has proven, in states such as Texas, to have spurred innovation, economic growth, and created many jobsIt gives consumers a choice in electric providers, and holds down monthly costs to consumers by having competitionTexas did this nearly a decade ago, and consumers there have a choice of seven electric providers, all regulated by the stateIsn’t freedom suppose to be about having choices.  Of Note: Century Aluminum (Hawesville) and Alcan Aluminum (Sebree) have announced they plan to move their plants out of Kentucky over rising electric costs and no alternative choice.      
  
===School System Budget and Info. of Interest Now On The Web===
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===Fox In The Henhouse===  
[[Union County Public Schools | Union County school system]] general information as well as their budget of revenue and expenses is now on line via our friends at [[Main Page | FreedomKentucky]].  Total revenue from the 2010 budget:  $21,752,215.  Use the following exact link to open the page:  www.freedomkentucky.org/index.php?title=union county public schools
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(newsletters 1-’08 & 6-’09)  With top electric company CEO’s making multi-million dollar compensation, it is ludicrous for power companies to get any rate/fee increase from the PSC and atty. general’s office.  It should be standard written policy that the state atty. general, and anyone in his energy regulation office, as well as all voting members of the PSC, should not be allowed to own stock, or have personal, family, or business ties to the companies they supposedly regulate.
  
===$80 A Barrel Oil In The ‘Great Recession’ ??===
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Past rate increases are simply more of a negotiationAsk for a large amount, and take anything you can get.
Most economists stated oil at $28 a barrel was ‘overpriced’ in 2004, when the economy appeared strongNow in the biggest recession since the great depression, oil is near $80/barrel.  Supply and demand figures have shown an overall glut the past two years, and oil supply keeping up or outpacing demand much of the past decade, despite what some in the industry state. So why the run-up and continued high gas/oil prices with demand worldwide going down the tubes for nearly two years?  As covered in our June 2009 newsletter, the Wall Street talking heads have blamed everyone from OPEC to storms in the oceans.  The real culprits are the Wall Street commodity trading firms themselves. Some of the very ones taxpayers recently bailed out. The same ones that were Obama’s biggest contributors (opensecrets.org/2008 campaign contributions). 
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==In Closing==
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These are but a few of the issues that are of concern to us.  We hope you will draft meaningful legislation to these issues of concern, that will allow the citizen/taxpayer to keep more of  what money they have left.  However, as long as the majority of voters continue to elect the same people from the same political parties, they will get the same results from government. To that point; the majority must like paying high gas prices, no job creation, and no government accountability. They keep voting for it.
  
Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy recently released their research stating that oil/gas commodity speculators are now 50% of the positions in the futures market, since commodity regulations were eased by the government in 2000.  Now these aforementioned campaign contributors are lobbying the Obama administration not to impose more regulations on commodity trading.  This how we got into this financial/economic mess in the first place,  the people our taxes pay to regulate and hold accountable not doing their job.  '''''Honest government regulations brings about slow, steady, dependable economic growth for all to prosper from. Without regulation we get market bubbles for a few years that burst and then the bubble blowers get bailed out by the government as repayment for all the campaign contributions'''''. 
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==Notable quotes==
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''The good thing about a democracy is everyone has a vote. The bad thing about a democracy is everyone has a vote, and the majority prove themselves to be fools at every election.''”  --Mark Twain
  
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“''The American republic will last until the politicians realize they can bribe the citizens with government money''” – Alexis DeTorqueville
  
What once made this country a great economic nation was that the average Joe had a good job, could afford the necessities of life, and many extras, and even afford to travel.  With gas between 2 and 3 dollars a gallon, he/she can’t even afford to drive past the job they used to have before the plant moved abroad.  With Obama’s hands politically tied to his biggest campaign contributors (Wall Street) can he really be expected to deliver anything meaningful from his campaign promises.  Maybe its not to early to start calling him Jimmy Obama, or Barack O’Carter.
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“''The beginning of the end of this nation will be when the citizens realize they can vote themselves a check from the government by simply supporting a particular candidate or party.''” – Ben Franklin
  
  
If you don’t do your part to hold politicians accountable by contacting them to voice your opinion, then how high will oil/gas be when/if the economy really does turn aroundYou can log on to www.StopOilSpeculationNow.com  to email your support for ending speculative trading of oil/gas futures.  It is a great website, lots of information, setup by the airline industry. As high gas prices are breaking them too.     
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==Disclaimer==
 
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Any attachments to this 2 page newsletter are not the work of anyone involved with the CFGA, and are therefore unauthorizedWe encourage all to distribute this newsletter, but attachments will be considered libelous by us.
'''Notable Quote:  “We demand that big business give the people a square deal.”  Teddy Roosevelt  11-15-1913'''
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==CFGA Newsletter Archives==
 
==CFGA Newsletter Archives==
*[[CFGA June 2009 Newsletter]]
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*[[Indiana Sales Tax Exemption for Farmers]]
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*[[CFGA September 2010 Newsletter | September 2010 Newsletter]]
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*[[CFGA April 2010 Newsletter | April 2010 Newsletter]]
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*[[CFGA January 2010 Newsletter | January 2010 Newsletter]]
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*[[CFGA June 2009 Newsletter | June 2009 Newsletter]]
 
*[[CFGA January 2009 Newsletter | January 2009 newsletter]]
 
*[[CFGA January 2009 Newsletter | January 2009 newsletter]]
 
*[http://www.freedomkentucky.org/images/2/2a/CFGA_July_2008.pdf July 2008 newsletter]
 
*[http://www.freedomkentucky.org/images/2/2a/CFGA_July_2008.pdf July 2008 newsletter]
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[[Category:Transparency]]
 
[[Category:Transparency]]
 
[[Category:Nonprofit]]
 
[[Category:Nonprofit]]
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[[Category:Citizens for Government Accountability]]

Latest revision as of 09:29, 14 February 2013

Citizens For Government Accountability



CFGA is a non-profit organization that fights for accountability in Union County, Kentucky and surrounding counties. CFGA formed in the spring of 2006 around in response to public policy issues such as the county jail and occupational taxes, and how local taxpayer money is spent on a variety of public buildings. CFGA obtains its information through interviews, formal open records requests, and attention to detail. [1] The organization publishes a regular newsletter featuring the latest information about issues concerning Union County.

Personnel

  • Executive Director - J.C. McElroy

Contact

  • cfgagov@yahoo.com

Current Newsletter

This is the February 2013 CFGA newsletter.

Ky. State Senator Dorsey Ridley Capitol Annex Room 255 Frankfort, Ky. 40601

Dear Senator Ridley;

In regards to your letter dated Dec. 2012, requesting comments/input, the following items are of concern to us, as we have addressed them, and others, in many of our past CFGA newsletters.

School Property Tax

Way too high for what we’ve gotten in return. If simply throwing money at the problem was the answer, then every Kentucky student would be ready for Harvard. School issues have been reported in our newsletters dated Jan. ’08, July ’08, Jan. ’09, April 2010. Sept. 2010. The school tax portion of property taxes in Union County (U/C) are 61% of the total tax. This does not include school tax on other bills (utility, phone, etc.) The problem is too much administration cost going to operate the school system, whether a failing school or not, and not enough going into the classroom. Why does U/C school system need a $65,000/year public relations person?

To correct the school tax issue we strongly suggest implementing similar school property tax legislation as to what former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels did regarding this issue. As much as we hate to brag on these yankee hoosiers; they lowered and capped school property taxes in their state, forced more of the money away from administration and into the classroom. They have a better national ranking than Ky. (not hard to do.) They don’t have a deficit, but enough of a surplus in govt. accounts that every taxpayer got a $300 credit toward their 2012 tax return. That is political leadership!

$8 million for a new Catholic school?

As voted on and approved by the U/C fiscal court on Nov. 13, 2012; Union County helping the Owensboro diocese build a new school in Morganfield with the county’s aid of $8 million in bonding assistance may not equal the landmark 2010 separation of church and state case of University of Cumberland vs. Rev. Pennybacker, but it does concern us equally. What precedent does this really set? If any of the many protestant churches in the county ask for this kind of assistance will they get it? It should be all treated equally or not at all. – “What has been the effort of religious coercion? But to make half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.” – Thomas Jefferson –1785.

Predacious by nature; State/county bureaucracies equals higher taxes

We understand it is the nature of government to create more government agencies, disguised as a benefit for the average citizen. There is no denying that good things can come from local boards of citizens. The problem arises when the ‘board’ requests and is granted taxing authority by its fiscal court. Most all of Ky. counties have various boards or commissions such as library, extension, health dept., etc. Not all counties have granted them ‘taxing authority’. Once granted, the fiscal court rarely has the courage to take away such taxing ability. Simply put, a board has a voice to make recommendations. Given taxing authority, they have the ability to tax for their benefit, which creates power. And no one wants to give up power, especially to tax. Everyone on such boards always thinks they can spend your money better than you, and do things they consider great.

The following are examples where state recommendations/oversight might help at the local level.

Union County Library Tax

A few years ago the board had accumulated roughly a half-million dollars in it’s tax funded account and voted to build onto the existing library at a cost of roughly $1 million. This in a county of less than 15 thousand people. The rest was paid off via the state tax payers. As with any of these projects, the county taxpayers are left with paying extra taxes to operate a large building. For the past two decades anyone with internet access can access any library in the world with just a few clicks, or download any book. The glaring reality is when you look at your property tax bill and see the library tax is almost half of what the county gets to operate the entire county. The county often ‘supplements’ many of these buildings, as has been reported in our past newsletters, via open records request of the county. We suggest that the fiscal court take away the library’s taxing authority. Doing so might require a slight increase in the county portion of taxes, but it would still be less in overall property taxes.

We commend the citizens of Hopkins County for letting the magistrates there know a few years ago that if they granted taxing authority to their library board, as was requested, there would be new magistrates after the next election.

Extension Tax

While we are of a farming/ranching background, it is troubling to many of us when we asked why the county extension service recently bought a large vacant piece of property next to them, and spent thousands more to clear the trees. The response was that it was voted on by the board. That they had a lot of money sitting in their account from taxes and interest didn’t pay anything these days. When this becomes the situation then it seems they should give the money back to the taxpayer, or lower or eliminate the tax. It is a clear example of lack of oversight and true accountability that the new state auditor recently spoke of in regards to these types of boards. At a minimum there needs to be a state law regarding this. We once again give reference to the Daniels plan enacted in Indiana; once a set level of tax is collect per fund/board, a tax credit is given to the taxpayer in the following years. Not go out and buy/build something. When the library and extension tax are more than the health dept. tax, you know there is a strong lack of oversight at the fiscal court level.

Elected Officials Associations

(covered in Jan.’09 newsletter) We strongly feel no elected officials should be allowed to form an association/union to lobby the legislature for higher pay/benefits. It came to our attention several years ago in talks with the state auditor’s office regarding this matter. While membership is voluntary, the roughly $1,000/year dues per office holder is usually charged back to the taxpayer as an office expense, (this fact found through our open records request and county budget).

Example: in the late 1990’s the Ky. Jailers Assc. successfully lobbied the legislators to grant them by law equal pay to the county judge-executive. All office holders seem to want more pay/benefits from the taxpayer. What has been the benefit to the taxpayer?

Area Development Districts (ADD’s)

We realize all counties by state statute must belong to yet another form of bureaucracy known as their area development district. We feel this is a good place to save taxpayer money. The true benefit of belonging to an ADD is questionable, especially with there being a department of local government (DLG) in Frankfort, as well as other agencies who are most helpful in answering questions on how to get things done. We have reported in many past newsletters (via our open records requests) about the lavish trips, some to other countries, organized by ADD’s such as GRADD, at taxpayer expense, for the sole benefit of its directors, who are county judge-executives, and their families. How can this be justified as a necessity to the taxpayer, and still ask for their vote.

Energy Points of Concern

Unmined minerals tax

We feel only coal, oil, gas, and corporations that derive the majority of their income from mineral holdings should have to pay this tax. For all others, this tax is the equivalent of being taxed a percentage of the jackpot amount for simple buying a lottery ticket. Only a bureaucrat would come up with such a tax, or a govt. that has already wasted enough money and needs an extra source to continue to waste.

De-Monopolization with continued regulation

(covered in 4-10 newsletter) This has proven, in states such as Texas, to have spurred innovation, economic growth, and created many jobs. It gives consumers a choice in electric providers, and holds down monthly costs to consumers by having competition. Texas did this nearly a decade ago, and consumers there have a choice of seven electric providers, all regulated by the state. Isn’t freedom suppose to be about having choices. Of Note: Century Aluminum (Hawesville) and Alcan Aluminum (Sebree) have announced they plan to move their plants out of Kentucky over rising electric costs and no alternative choice.

Fox In The Henhouse

(newsletters 1-’08 & 6-’09) With top electric company CEO’s making multi-million dollar compensation, it is ludicrous for power companies to get any rate/fee increase from the PSC and atty. general’s office. It should be standard written policy that the state atty. general, and anyone in his energy regulation office, as well as all voting members of the PSC, should not be allowed to own stock, or have personal, family, or business ties to the companies they supposedly regulate.

Past rate increases are simply more of a negotiation. Ask for a large amount, and take anything you can get.

In Closing

These are but a few of the issues that are of concern to us. We hope you will draft meaningful legislation to these issues of concern, that will allow the citizen/taxpayer to keep more of what money they have left. However, as long as the majority of voters continue to elect the same people from the same political parties, they will get the same results from government. To that point; the majority must like paying high gas prices, no job creation, and no government accountability. They keep voting for it.

Notable quotes

The good thing about a democracy is everyone has a vote. The bad thing about a democracy is everyone has a vote, and the majority prove themselves to be fools at every election.” --Mark Twain

The American republic will last until the politicians realize they can bribe the citizens with government money” – Alexis DeTorqueville

The beginning of the end of this nation will be when the citizens realize they can vote themselves a check from the government by simply supporting a particular candidate or party.” – Ben Franklin


Disclaimer

Any attachments to this 2 page newsletter are not the work of anyone involved with the CFGA, and are therefore unauthorized. We encourage all to distribute this newsletter, but attachments will be considered libelous by us.

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See Also

References

  1. Citizens For Government Accountability Website