LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Pizza, beer, and Louisville Metro Council:
On Thursday night, Metro Councilman Bill Hollander, chairman of the Budget Committee, showed the room a recent receipt to prove a point.
"I usually don't share the receipts from my restaurants, but I happened to be in Pineville, Kentucky, this weekend at a great little pizza place called Sauced. I ordered a salad bowl — my wife and I — and a pizza. I had a draft beer," he said with a smirk. "It was interesting to me that when I got the bill, there's a 6% alcohol tax, so I contributed 21 cents to the City of Pineville."
There's no such tax in Louisville, because bigger cities like Louisville aren't legally allowed to have one.
"Y'all can't do an alcohol regulatory fee — that was based on that old class system — nor can you do a restaurant tax at all," said J.D. Chaney, deputy executive director of the Kentucky League of Cities.
That inequity was discussed at the budget committee meeting for good reason. Back in the summer, the city passed a tough budget full of cuts after getting a bigger pension bill from the state.
Chaney told council that pension bill will only grow next year.
"Unfortunately, as the chairman indicated, we don't bare good news," he said.
Hollander hopes Louisville will someday be able to consider a restaurant tax that could help the city fill future budget shortfalls.
"A 3% tax rate restaurant tax would produce about $42 million ... somewhere around in there — for the City of Louisville," Chaney said.
But for Louisville to consider that option, Frankfort would have to give cities like Louisville the ability to do so.
"If we're going to pay these increased pension bills, we need help as to our options to raise that revenue," Hollander said.
Metro Councilman Kevin Kramer, the leading Republican on council, agrees, even after he helped shoot down a hike to insurance taxes earlier this year.
"I do think that a restaurant tax makes more sense than an insurance premium tax," he said. "Absolutely."
Kramer clarified that Louisville shouldn't need a tax hike to pass a budget next year, but he does think something has to change before even tougher budgets in following years.
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