Customized City Classification Fact Sheets for Each City- From KLC Research!
City Classification Reform Summary and Reference Sheet Now Available
Find everything you need to know about House Bill 331 here!
You can also view and download your city's CUSTOMIZED City Classification information sheet. Go here, click on your city in the drop down menu and click on "City Classification Fact Sheet."
One of the top legislative priorities for the Kentucky League of Cities was approved by the General Assembly through the passage of House Bill 331, which was KLC’s initiative to reform the classification system. Beginning January 1, 2015, the arbitrary classification system with six classifications will change to two classes: First Class and Home Rule cities (all other cities). Lexington will be a Home Rule city but maintain all responsibilities and privileges under their urban-county statutes. Louisville will continue to exercise the powers of the first class city by virtue of being a consolidated local government.
Download the SUMMARY AND REERENCE SHEET. You can find detailed information about each law impacted by House Bill 331 here.
KLC Research & Federal Relations Manager, Joseph Coleman, has taken on the huge task of preparing customized city classification sheets for each city. KLC members can View or download your city's individualized fact sheet here. Click on your city in the drop down menu, click on "City Classification Fact Sheet."
Why was this major reform necessary? For too long, city governments struggled with the restrictions and red tape from an outdated classification system created with the 1891 Kentucky Constitution. The scheme of six classes set by population standards affected more than 400 laws, including those impacting alcohol beverage control, revenue options and public safety. More than one-third of Kentucky cities were not in a classification that matched its population requirements and the granting of home rule authority in 1980 largely removed the necessity for such a complex classification system. Moreover, the voters of Kentucky recognized the need for changing the system when they approved a constitutional amendment in 1994 permitting the General Assembly to create a new classification system.
The complex bill was developed after tedious study and analysis. KLC President and Midway Mayor Tom Bozarth chaired a city classification task force of city officials from across the state representing cities of all classes and population. For two years, the task force studied the laws impacted by classification requirements and then developed a legislative proposal. After the KLC Board of Directors approved their recommended approach, KLC staff worked over the next two years with Representative Steve Riggs (D-Jeffersontown), who serves as the Chair of the House Local Government Committee, and Legislative Research Commission staff to draft House Bill 331, which was 379 pages.
The end result was House Bill 331, which passed the legislature the first year it was filed. This was no small feat, but was made possible because of the extensive effort taken to educate city officials and legislators about the necessity and the effect of the legislation. .
Below is an overview of the legislation.
House Bill 331 Recap
- House Bill 331 creates two classes of cities based on the form of government: First Class (mayor-alderman form of government) and Home Rule Class (all other cities, including Lexington, which will maintain urban county government powers and responsibilities). Changes in classification will now be based on the form of government, which is subject to a popular vote of the citizens. The legislation does not require any city to make changes in its form of government.
- The effective date of House Bill 331 is January 1, 2015.
- Some distinctions between cities remain based upon the population of the city and/or the previous classifications. In several laws, the reform replaces class distinctions in with population criteria. The most recent federal decennial census will be used to determine the population. A city may petition the circuit court to dispute population figures.
Once a city acquires and exercises an authority based on population, the city will not lose authority if population changes as the result of a subsequent census. Population based distinctions under the classification system affect the following areas:
- Alcohol regulation - Cities that already regulate alcohol or held a local option election will be grandfathered in, even without new population criteria.
- Planning and Zoning authority for cities in Jefferson County - All cities in Jefferson County that currently provide planning and zoning are grandfathered.
- Utility statutes that relate to organization of the utility boards and commissions.
- Occupational license tax - The legislation permits cities with a population greater than 1,000 to impose an occupational license tax measured as a percentage of gross earnings (payroll) or net profits. All cities that have previously exercised the authority will be grandfathered in. Cities below 1,000 population may impose a fee based on a flat annual rate.
House Bill 331 holds the status quo in a few of the more controversial statutes by referencing a registry of authorized cities developed by DLG:
- Restaurant tax remains only authorized in those cities that were previously classified as fourth of fifth class cities as of January 1, 2014.
- Alcohol regulatory fees can only be imposed in cities classified as third and fourth class on August 1, 2014.
- Police and fire disciplinary procedures that were special only to second and third class cities remain only applicable to those cities.
- Firefighter schedule of 24/48 only applies to those cities previously classified as second class cities and urban county government.
- Mandatory police scheduling and vacation time requirements remain only applicable to those cities previously classified as second and third class.
- Maintains the status quo with statues governing the closed city police and fire pension plans.
- Mayoral term limits only apply to those cities previously classified as first and second class.
- Solid waste planning responsibilities maintain the status quo in the relationship between cities and counties.