Lobbyists Take Revenge for Frankfort Plan to tax Lobbyists

By PAUL GLASSER  July 30  The State Journal
Lobbyists say they plan to cancel or reschedule seminars, receptions and conferences to protest the city’s imposition of occupational tax and business license fees on themselves and others.
“This is a statement we’re going to make to the city,” said David Thompson, executive director of the Kentucky Press Association. “We don’t agree with the way things have been handled.”
Approximately 70 lobbyists met at the KPA offices for two hours on Monday to discuss proposed changes to the occupational tax and business license ordinance. The changes are designed to clarify the requirements and will receive a second reading before the City Commission next month.
The proposed ordinance would set a minimum threshold for compliance and require any “itinerant professionals,” including journalists, lobbyists and engineers, to pay the tax if they earn more than $1,600 for services provided inside city limits or work for more than two eight-hour workdays.
Workers who enter Frankfort to perform incidental duties, such as reporting or testifying, would be exempt from paying the tax.
Finance Director Steve Dawson said this morning he had not received any additional correspondence from the lobbyists. However, last week, City Solicitor Rob Moore said he thought the proposed changes would address the lobbyists’ concerns.
However, Tom Underwood, executive director of the Kentucky Society of Association Executives, said last week the proposed changes are different from anything lobbyists have discussed with city officials.
Lobbyist Donna Brown said she has already canceled one event in Frankfort and could cancel another.
Thompson said the lobbyists would continue to discuss their concerns with members of the City Commission. He said some lobbyists would probably attend the commission meeting on Aug. 27 to voice their concerns.
In addition to the informal boycott, Thompson said lobbyists would also work with state lawmakers to resolve the issue. He said the lobbyists did not discuss the possibility of challenging the ordinance in court because legislation could be approved during the 2008 session.
“That would probably be the faster avenue,” Thompson said.
While working in Frankfort, lobbyists have always been treated hospitably by local businesses, Thompson said. The decision to cancel or reschedule events is not designed to punish them, although Thompson said there would probably be a negative economic impact.
“We want to make a statement we are not pleased with what the city is doing,” he said.
Thompson said he would like the city to propose a flat tax instead of charging 1.75 percent of net profits and wages. Some lobbyists might pay the tax and fees for 2005 and 2006 in protest, Thompson said. They could then file amended returns for the county where they do most of their business and get a rebate.
 

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