Petition set to stall payroll tax

Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer

Murray community members are petitioning the proposed payroll tax that will replace city stickers if passed by the Murray City Council.

Gregory Taylor, former Murray City Council member, started the petition because he said he did not believe there was a planned forum to communicate with business leaders, community workers and the public about the tax before the council moved to enact it.

Within three days, the petition had 654 supporters. The number is growing as more community members sign the petition. 

Although, Taylor said he did not expect the petition to receive this much attention. 

“I honestly had no idea,” he said. “I know how powerful it can be to have phone conversations with the people you represent, and so I thought that it would be beneficial for the council to see how many people care about this issue and have that expressed to them in this type of manner.”

He said he is hopeful that the petition will make the council take more time to consider the public before the tax is voted on.

The petition is not meant to be harsh or hateful, Taylor said, because he said he is thankful for the hard work of the city council.

“We’re expressing the disagreement with the proposal and the request that there be more study and more time and more input from the community before it’s enacted,” Taylor said.

He will present the petition to the city council and urge them not to enact the payroll tax.

Murray residents and those working in Murray are concerned about the payroll tax lowering their income.   

Teresa Steen, resident of Murray, said the working and middle class are already stretched, some working two or three jobs to keep their heads above water. She said she was working three jobs a year ago but now only works two.

“Families will suffer,” Steen said. “Bottom line: budgets are tight. Families will have to cut back on essentials as this tax will literally lower their incomes.” 

Other residents of the city commented on the petition, saying a payroll tax is unfair and a financial burden on families.

“I live in the county but work in the city,” Murray resident Amanda Dennis, wrote. “This tax would basically take one and a half of my paychecks a year. That’s not good for working people who live paycheck to paycheck.”

Paul Rister, resident of Almo, Kentucky, wrote, “For those that live in the county but work in the city, this would be ‘taxation without representation.’ Which for a reminder, is a situation in which government imposes taxes on a particular group of its citizens, despite the citizens not consenting or having an actual voice in city government since they live in the county. This is tyranny.”

Wesley Bolin, city council member, said he has read every comment on the petition and the majority of comments are from people who live outside Murray but work in the city. He said many of the petition signers come from towns and counties that use a payroll tax to generate the majority of local government income.

“My job is to represent the people of Murray, and currently Murray residents are responsible for far greater share of the cost of the city government than residents of most other cities in western Kentucky, as well as the residents of every other Kentucky city with a public university,” Bolin said. 

Mayor Jack Rose said he has not seen the petition, but he has heard about it.

Rose said the council was provided with data that compares the revenue sources Murray uses to other university cities in Kentucky, regional university cities in Kentucky and other cities that are the same size as Murray.

This information was provided to the council last week, he said, and it will be presented to the public Thursday, Nov. 17 at 6 p.m.

The meeting Thursday will also serve as public comment, regarding the payroll tax. 

Correction: A previous version of this article included an incorrect quote. A paraphrased quote of Wesley Bolin said “He has read every comment on the petition and he said the majority of comments are from people who live outside Murray but work in the city and pay a payroll tax to their own towns.” The correct paraphrased quote is “He has read every comment on the petition and the majority of comments are from people who live outside Murray but work in the city. He said many of the petition signers come from towns and counties that use a payroll tax to generate the majority of local government income.” The News regrets this error.