A hearing originally scheduled for today to determine if a controversial, retroactive law and ongoing occupational tax dispute between the city of Corbin and the Knox County Fiscal Court has now been put off until April Ñ further delaying battle that has stretched on now for five years.
Attorneys for the city and county next plan to be in court April 25 at 9:00 a.m. to argue cross motions in the case before Knox Circuit Judge Greg Lay.
"It was some kind of scheduling conflict with the attorney’s that caused the delay," said Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney. "They’ll make oral arguments in April and then it will probably be sometime in June if I was guessing before a decision is made."
At issue this time around is a controversial law called "The Stivers Amendment" for the State Senator who proposed the measure. The law essentially thwarted numerous court rulings and roughly three years of litigation over the issue of which local government – the city of Corbin or the Knox County Fiscal Court – would receive the money collected from the occupational tax.
House Bill 499, an emergency tax amnesty bill, was signed into law on April 11. Attached to the bill was the "Stivers Amendment" and it retroactively changed the ground rules between cities and counties for how occupational taxes are distributed.
The amendment was introduced by State Senator Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) (now Senate President) whose district includes Knox County.
Stivers proposed changing the law to bar city taxpayers from claiming any credit or offset against a county occupational tax from applying "to a city and county unless both the city and county have both levied and are collecting license fees on March 15, 2012." Both Knox County and Corbin have one percent occupational license tax levies in place.
Corbin was poised to soon start collecting the tax as a string of court rulings had gone the city’s way.
Soon after the StiverÕs Amendment passed, Corbin filed another lawsuit in Knox Circuit Court claiming the law was "special legislation." In Kentucky, it is unconstitutional for the state legislature to pass laws that unfairly target single communities or areas, or which focus on singular local problems.
Stivers has defended the move, saying that allowing Corbin to collect the tax would result in the Knox Count Fiscal Court being unable to provide necessary services to its citizens.