Editorial: Santa Wilder needs to bring presents to Danville, too

November 28, 2004

At a recent meeting in Junction City to get public input on his proposal to raise the county payroll tax, Boyle County Judge-Executive Tony Wilder offered residents of that city a gift in exchange for their support.

Wilder suggested that the Fiscal Court could give Junction City $32,000, which would allow that city to eliminate its recently adopted 1 percent payroll tax.

It's unclear whether Wilder's comment should be taken seriously. He recently backed away from another statement made during a heated discussion of the county's budget woes, in which he said that he feared that another "big plant" was "teetering" and might leave the county.

But just for the sake of argument let's assume that the judge-executive was saying what he meant in Junction City. If so, it represents a kind of milestone in his thinking because he has acknowledged for the first time that city residents in this county are double-taxed: They pay both city and county taxes.


The apparent change in Wilder's thinking is significant because for years Danville residents - and sometimes their elected officials - have complained that the county does not pay its fair share for joint city-county programs.

Theoretically, the county should be paying the full cost of such joint government programs as parks and recreation and planning and zoning and for the annual grants that are given out to non-government programs, such as the senior citizens center.

What actually happens, however, is that the cost of such programs tends to be either divided up evenly between the county and the city, or the city pays a greater share. This is patently unfair to city residents who pay for these programs first through their city taxes and then pay for them a second time through their county taxes.

So if the judge-executive is handing out gifts to city residents this holiday season in exchange for their support for raising the county payroll tax rate from 0.45 percent to 0.85 percent, he might promise Danville residents that the fiscal court will end this long-standing inequity in the funding of joint programs.

If Wilder is going to play Santa in Junction City, he needs to bring a few goodies down the chimney in Danville - and he can't forget about Perryville, either.

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