Saturday, July 06, 2002

Bromley lawsuit can proceed

Flat tax per lot is challenged

By Jim Hannah,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FRANKFORT — A challenge to Bromley's $60 per lot fee for life squad services can continue in state court, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

        Bromley has helped pay for ambulance service since at least 1999 by placing a $60 fee on every residential lot or business in the city of about 800 residents.

        The flat $60 fee was an attempt by council to levy taxes in a fair manner, Mayor Jim Miller said, adding that no one wanted to make property taxes regressive.

        “I have not seen the ruling or even heard about it,” said Mr. Miller. “I will not know what impact, if any, it has.”

        Mr. Miller said if the tax was overturned, the city would simply raise property taxes to make up the difference. He said the fire department is funded through property taxes.

        The appeals court, in a unanimous ruling from the three-judge panel, said Gail Smith can pursue her lawsuit against the emergency services tax as a class action,which means it will apply to everyone who paid the tax.

        If, however, Ms. Smith wins the suit, individual taxpayers will have to claim their own refunds, Judge William Knopf's ruling said.

        In a separate lawsuit, Ms. Smith — who is also a council member — tried to stop the city from collecting a $75 tax assessed on mobile homes because she does not live in one. The court refused to reinstate that lawsuit, which also had been dismissed by a lower court.

        Judge Knopf said Ms. Smith has no standing to sue on the mobile home tax. “Clearly such a suit threatens to involve the court directly in the political process in the debate between Smith and her city council colleagues and for that reason cannot be maintained,” Judge Knopf said.
        The Associated Press contributed


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