LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville’s west end is home for Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal.
“The great people of these neighborhoods, just like all Kentuckians, want security, which includes homeownership and the ability to accumulate wealth,” Neal said.
But the area is one of the poorest in Kentucky.
Mayor Greg Fischer says the city is doing what it can, pouring more than a billion dollars into the area over the last decade.
“There’s a lot going on, but there can be a lot more that needs to go on as well,” Fischer said.
A new proposal from state lawmakers could funnel millions more into West Louisville over the next three decades, using a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to help keep tax dollars in the area.
“I think once people see this, I think they’ll be encouraged by what’s happening here,” Neal said.
A TIF district captures any new tax revenue generated within the boundaries of the district and puts it into a fund for specific projects in the district. When a TIF district is enacted, lawmakers use the amount of tax money generated within the district that year as the baseline, and any tax revenue generated above that baseline in the future would go into the TIF fund.
With proposals like these, there’s always a chance you could end up pushing the people you're trying to help out of the community by making it too expensive to live; a process known as gentrification. To combat the issue, this proposal creates a board made up of people in each west end community to decide where the money goes.
Evon Smith is president of OneWest, a group dedicated to developing the west end. She said raising property values too much is a key concern, one she believes this bill will address.
“This is an effort to bring us together folks,” Smith said. “If ever there was a time, now is the time.”
The bill also freezes property taxes for existing homeowners so they won’t be forced out of their homes if and when property values rise.
The proposal has the backing of Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Eastern Kentucky, another one of Kentucky’s poorest areas.
“This state cannot be the strongest it can be unless Louisville is strong, and Louisville has to be strong for my hometown to be strong,” Stivers said.
Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, and Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, are also attached to the bill.
The bill also includes financial support from the private sector, which supporters say will be critical to getting the revitalization of West Louisville underway.