KLC heads to Washington, D.C. to talk about city needs

     The Kentucky League of Cities is headed to the nation’s capital to talk about how federal and local governments can work together to improve local communities. A KLC delegation of eleven will fly into Washington, D.C. Monday to connect with Kentucky’s congressional members. The group plans to meet with Kentucky’s Members of Congress. There are six U.S. representatives from Kentucky and two U.S. senators. The message will be focused on how federal lawmakers can ensure they’re working to improve the lives of constituents back home in Kentucky’s cities.

     KLC Executive Director/CEO Jon Steiner says helping cities get federal grants and make federal connections are the two biggest goals for the group. There are 417 cities in Kentucky and many use federal grants to fund much-needed programs and infrastructure. The KLC delegation plans to speak with Members of Congress about allocations from programs like the Community Development Block Grant, Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, Appalachian Regional Commission, and Delta Regional Authority.

     Funds from those types of programs are vital sources of income for local programs that improve the lives of the 2.4 million people who live in Kentucky cities. Owensboro used Community Development Block Grant funds to redevelop three neighborhoods in a $21 million project that ultimately increased property values and homeownership while decreasing the number of unsound structures. Sadieville used $350,000 in CDBG funds to extend sewer lines, which resulted in $12.4 million of private investments to the previously unserved area. By leveraging this public money with other resources the city reversed a failing system, improved service, reduced rates, and facilitated economic development.

     There are other federal legislative priorities the Kentucky League of Cities plans to discuss with Members of Congress during the three days the KLC delegation will be in the nation’s capital. The KLC Federal Relations Committee, a group composed of 25 representatives from small to large cities, identified four federal priorities. Among them are infrastructure needs in Kentucky, including expansion of broadband networks, and preservation of the federal income tax exemption for municipal bonds.

     The Washington, D.C. excursion is also aimed at helping cities make federal connections. Steiner says the group will make sure federal lawmakers “know that cities are ready to work with them and cities are watching them.” The group wants to ensure Members of Congress and local leaders are partners, making sure the two levels of government work together.

     This is the first time KLC has taken a group to Washington, D.C. to meet with federal representatives. Steiner says the hope is the excursion can grow in the coming years and ultimately include 30-40 Kentucky city officials.