Classification explained

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E’town’s status as a Fourth-class city

By The Staff

Much has been discussed about what class the city of Elizabethtown should be. It has centered on the population and the restaurant tax and what benefits city police and firefighters would receive if Elizabethtown changed its classification.

Population: The only thing in the statutes that relates to a city changing class. All other requirements were repealed in a 1994 vote of the people on the constitution. However, there are unfunded mandates that could incur when class is changed. The city cannot go back to the old class — class can only be changed by request of the City Council and presented to the legislature.

In 1980, cities were given “Home Rule” powers which allow cities to perform any function to further a public purpose of the city without coming into conflict with a constitutional provision or statute. This provision reduced the restrictions imposed by classification.

Benefits: Civil service for Fire and Police was established by Elizabethtown in 1972 to provide protection from political changes for public safety personnel.  This keeps those departments from undergoing changes every time there is an election. Elizabethtown’s civil service is based upon third class legislation in state statutes. Starting in 1978 all city employees were given vacation benefits based on years of service: After one year of service and through three years: one week of vacation. Four years through 10 years: Two weeks of vacation. More than 10 years: Three weeks of vacation.

This is more vacation than directed by being a second-class city. City personnel also accrue personal days based on the number of years employed. They have retirement, worker’s compensation, hospitalization, dental, vision, life insurance, family medical leave, sick leave, annual health screenings and other benefits.

Under KRS 91A.400: Fourth-class cities can establish a restaurant tax. Elizabethtown established the tax in 2007 and collected two million dollars in the first year. This is an economic tool that will bring new visitors to our community and provide much needed fields for our young people to play on. It will provide additional jobs for those in the service area as well as the retail area. The Historic State Theater will become a destination for enlightening our residents on the arts while providing our seniors more avenues to enjoy and participate in activities.

Most of the revenue from the tax will not come from our residents, but from our visitors, as we make this more of a tourist destination in the future.

We are a Fourth-class city and have been for 90+ years. Based upon changes to the authority of cities in the 1994 and 1980 acts, we have not seen the need to change the city’s classification simply based on population. We have been a progressive community and have been able to meet the needs of Elizabethtown by staying fourth class and saving our taxpayers money.

Mayor David Willmoth