A bid to repeal Leitchfield’s 3 percent sales tax on prepared foods was narrowly defeated at the Monday, Jan. 7, city council meeting, with Mayor William Thomason casting the tie-breaking vote against the measure.
The vote followed a sometimes spirited public debate on the merits of the tax, how its proceeds should be spent, and the city’s vision for the future.
It also fulfilled newly-elected council member Jerry Schlosser’s campaign promise to attempt to repeal the tax. Near the end of the meeting he made a motion to repeal the tax retroactive to Jan. 1, saying he knew it “might be controversial, but I’ve got to do what I think is right.”
He, fellow new council member Harold Miller, and Margaret Fey voted in favor of the motion. Steven Elder, Raymond “Tooty” Cottrell and Billy Dallas voted against it.
The meeting started with comments against the tax from local resident Ann Huff, who said she and her husband eat out frequently and are feeling the tax’s effects. She estimated they’ve spent about $440 eating out since October, which would include about $14 in taxes.
Huff said she’s opposed to the tax in general, but specifically disagrees with its potential use to fund a new outdoor swimming pool on the city’s southeast side — something she termed “a ridiculous thing to spend so much money on.”
Larry and Cathy Durst spoke in favor of the tax, arguing it can help Leitchfield pay for recreational and development projects it couldn’t otherwise tackle.
“I think this one particular thing (a repeal vote) is a bad turn in the wrong direction,” he said, adding he believed a lot of people would be upset if the tax were repealed.
Jay Dinwiddie, one of the owners of the Alice Theater and Alexander Hotel, also spoke in favor of the tax, saying most people “don’t see or feel it” and that it even being an issue “indicates some people aren’t thinking clearly.
He noted restaurant tax funding is a possible source of money to renovate the old theater complex, and said if the city messes up this opportunity it likely won’t get another one to stop the site from becoming low-income housing.
Elder noted that Bardstown has had a restaurant tax since 1977, and has invested the money in downtown renovations and improvements.
The mayor also spoke in favor of the tax, noting that if frees up other city monies that can be used on upgrading equipment and other services.
In other action the council:
* Appointed Kelly Stevenson to the Tourism Commission, He replaces Jose Soto, one of the commission’s original members, who resigned last month for personal reasons.
* Re-appointed Erin Embry as the city clerk/treasurer, Ken Smart as the city attorney, Bart Glenn as the police chief, Carl “Moon” Smith as the fire chief, and Darrell Harrell as public works director.
* Named Fey as mayor pro tem.
* Heard a request from Lambert Decker to do a controlled burn on property he bought on Brandenburg Road near the fairgrounds — both for live training for the fire department and to clean up the property. The fire department will take the request under consideration.
* Recognized police officer Tim Moutardier for the award he recently received from the recent state award Kentucky Office of Highway Safety for his efforts in targeting impaired drivers. According to statistics provided by KOHS, Moutardier made 11 of the police department’s 29 DUI arrests for the year.