Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster
Davis Motor Sales banner ad

Edelen’s ‘Ghost Government’ Efforts Could Create Millions of New Auditors

BluegrassBeacon 01 300KENTUCKY (1/13/13) - American revolutionary James Otis gets credit for saying: “Taxation without representation is tyranny.”

Whoever said it, those words ring just as true here today in Kentucky as they did in 18th century colonial Massachusetts.

Thankfully, State Auditor Adam Edelen also is demonstrating his belief in this founding principle with his initiative to hold accountable the more than 1,200 special taxing districts strung out across the commonwealth.

The crescendo of the Kentucky Citizen Auditor Initiative on special districts is an interactive online database designed to finally shine some light on these governments.

Edelen calls them “ghost governments” that have operated in the shadows of Kentucky for more than a century.

These special districts are as spooky as they sound. That’s because the state officials who run them have the power to assess fees and levy taxes on Kentuckians – without having to be elected by Bluegrass citizens.

Add in the fact that 40 percent of these ghost governments ignore their legal obligation to submit budgets to county governments, and that half with revenues over $750,000 per year are not subjected to the audits required by law, and you may feel like you’ve been whisked back in time to an era of colonial history where state masters would taketh without having to giveth account.

That’s truly taxation without representation – not to mention without transparency.

And the lack of accountability isn’t a nickels-and-dimes type of problem either.
• The 1,268 special districts that can be found in every county in Kentucky spend more than $2.7 billion per year – which equals approximately one-fourth of the total annual general fund state budget.
• At $1.3 billion, even the total reserves held by these ghost governments are more than twice those of Kentucky’s 174 school systems.
• In 117 of 120 counties in Kentucky, taxpayers pay more to these unelected ghost governments than they do to their elected county governments.

As Edelen notes in his report, one must separate the epic lack of transparency and accountability within these special districts from the services provided.

Fire departments, sanitation services and libraries provide highly demanded goods and services. But to allow the $2.7 billion earned by Kentucky citizens and taken by these typically unelected officials to be spent without transparency or accountability is unacceptable.

Thankfully, Kentucky’s legislature is finally taking measures to turn these ghost governments into good governments.

Legislation likely will be filed next week that would require these special districts to submit appropriate accounting and reporting information to Kentucky’s Department for Local Government, and would streamline the process by creating a uniform system of transparency.

While taxpayers deserve to get even more details on spending by these special districts, these steps represent a big improvement over the current system, which, as Edelen describes in his recent report, represent “a muddled morass of more than 50 chapters of law and more than 1,000 individual statutes (some of which are a century old), bizarre classifications, uncertain responsibilities, confusing mandates and the absence of meaningful tools to compel compliance.”

Utmost transparency and the kind of accountability expected from those who tax and spend citizens’ hard-earned income are necessary in defeating the type of tyranny American revolutionaries opined against 250 years ago.

Let’s hope the legislature will take a bold step toward reaching that ideal.

Edelen has provided the leadership through his efforts to establish an online database that any citizen watchdog can use to hold these tax collectors accountable.

By following his lead, lawmakers will empower Kentuckians, creating millions of auditors rather than just one.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Read previously published columns at www.freedomkentucky.org/bluegrassbeacon.

 
Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013

In Other News...

Apollo Area Alliance to Host Neighborhood Cleanup

OWENSBORO, Ky. (9/1/14) — The Apollo Area Alliance will host a neighborhood cleanup. The cleanup will take place from 6… Read More

Dawson Springs Woman Arrested for Endangering Welfare of Minors, Drug Trafficking

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (9/2/14) — Madisonville Police conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of West Broadway and… Read More
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

August 29, 2014 8577

Luke's Flea Market Vendors' Home Away…

in News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
August 30, 2014 8292

One Hospitalized After Officer-Involved…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
August 31, 2014 6281

Passenger in Officer-Involved Shooting…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
August 29, 2014 4266

Business Spotlight - Magical Memories…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
August 30, 2014 3293

Ponderosa Madisonville to Donate 10…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

August 30, 2014 3293

Ponderosa Madisonville to Donate 10…

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
September 01, 2014 1835

Hopkins County Misdemeanor Indictments

in Top Stories by Karen McKnight
August 30, 2014 1458

City of Madisonville Says 'Goodbye' to…

in Top Stories by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
August 29, 2014 970

MCC Announces New Board Members

in Top Stories by Joyce Riggs
September 02, 2014 668

Dawson Springs Woman Arrested for…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

August 29, 2014 2961

Daviess County Sheriff’s Office Activity…

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
August 29, 2014 2809

Owensboro Police Department Activity…

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
August 30, 2014 2113

Owensboro Traffic Advisory

in News by Keith Todd
August 29, 2014 1112

Woman Charged in Assault of 3-Year-Old…

in Top Stories by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
August 30, 2014 510

Smith, Hamilton honored at Distinguished…

in Top Stories by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

August 29, 2014 4266

Business Spotlight - Magical Memories…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
August 30, 2014 2484

Skateboarders Enjoy Own Style of Cruise In

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
August 29, 2014 2454

School System Facing $5M Shortfall;…

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
August 29, 2014 2330

No College = Low Wages : A Muhlenberg…

in Top Stories by Ken Robinson

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)

SurfKY Owensboro News Bureau
920 Frederica St. / Suite 210  •  Owensboro, KY 42301  •  270.683-8060 (phone)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social 03social 04social 22social 21social 06