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Politics

A proposed bill would allow the creation of new cities in Jefferson County

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J. Tyler Franklin
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Communities in Louisville would be able to become independent cities under a bill proposed in the Kentucky legislature.

The bill would be a pivot away from the precedent established in 2000, when voters approved combining Jefferson County and the city of Louisville into one entity. The merger allowed some suburban cities to stay intact, but new ones can’t be created under current law.

It would establish a process where a “consolidated local government,” like Louisville, would be required to approve the creation of a small city as long as 75% or more of residents in the area agree.

Rep. Kevin Bratcher, a Republican from Louisville and sponsor of the bill, said people who live far away from downtown feel like the city doesn’t respond to their needs.

“You know, there are so many cities in the county already, and it’s just not fair to the unincorporated parts of Jefferson County that they don’t have that option if they so choose,” Bratcher said.

There are already more than 80 Independent cities within Jefferson County. They have their own taxing authority and many have created police forces, fire departments and trash pickup services.

Bratcher said citizens should be able to vote to create their own public service departments.

“It just seems like there are not enough policemen around, and I know there’s a shortage of policemen. And we might want to have the city to take care of that situation,” Bratcher said, referring to potential new cities within the county.

Middletown, in the eastern part of Louisville, formed its own police department separate from Louisville Metro Police Department in 2018.

During the end of the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers brought forward a similar bill, but failed.

Critics of that bill included Louisville Metro Council member Bill Hollander, of District 9. He said it could lead to lost tax revenue for the city and need to be heavily considered before passing.

The bill would also create a two-term limit for Louisville’s mayor, who can currently serve for three four-year terms. And it would give Louisville Metro Council 60 days to approve mayoral appointments and add a requirement for an annual report of money spent on public services.

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