Sometimes, you have to eat a little crow.
I actually don’t mind to do so when I’m wrong.
So here it is. Several weeks I blasted the addition of what is often called “The Stivers Amendment” to the Kentucky state budget. It’s the one that has a big impact on the outcome of the fight between Corbin and Knox County over occupational taxes that we dedicated gallons of ink to over the years. I’ve altered my view a bit.
It still bothers me that the city of Corbin played by the rules, won in court, and was set to collect those taxes just like every other city in Kentucky in the same situation, but was denied at the last moment.
I can understand the indignation by city leaders who feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under them.
But since it’s first iteration, State Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) did something that could possibly pave the way for Corbin to collect some of those taxes after all. He made it so the city could “phase in” collection of 20 percent of all the occupational taxes collected in the Knox County portion of the city. Since neither side could reach an interlocal agreement on the issue, he’s doing it for them.
Since his amendment now allows for businesses and individuals to claim a .1 percent credit in the first year, and .2 percent credit on the 1 percent tax in year two, essentially the city could set its tax rate in each of those years to .1 percent and .2 percent respectively. The dreaded “stack” of competing occupational taxes won’t happen because of the credit the “Stivers Amendment” now allows. No one wanted that. It would be unfair to taxpayers and could have the consequence of running off businesses, or making prospective businesses look elsewhere.
Under the new scheme, the amount of tax paid by workers and businesses remains unchanged. It’s just whom they pay that tax to that changes. Eventually, 20 percent would go to the city, 80 percent to the county.
I’ll let the lawyers and elected officials sort out the legality of it all, but it’s abundantly clear that this is what Mr. Stivers was trying to bring about. If it works, it could be $200,000 or more annually in the city’s coffers.
It’s not the whole enchilada. That really wouldn’t be fair anyway.
But it is a darn good start. With some increasingly likely development planned for that part of Corbin, tax revenue will surely increase.
I’ve never thought Robert Stivers is an enemy of Corbin or an ill-intentioned person regardless of how heated this occupational tax battle has gotten at times. But I have been less than thrilled with the manner in which these measures have been introduced, the timing and the negative way they affected Corbin initially.
Now, after a deep breath or two and some closer inspection, I think Senator Stivers has come up with something very fair-minded and compromise oriented. He’s made a name for himself in the Kentucky Senate for being able to rise above rhetoric in order to forge legislative solutions to Kentucky’s problems. And with a situation that was so nasty and acrimonious that it looked like it may never be resolved, he may just have done it again.