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Three challengers for seats on the Elizabethtown City Council will testify at a hearing regarding city classification legislation at the Capitol Annex in Frankfort on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008.
City Council candidates Steve Atcher, Bill Bennett and Matt Wyatt will participate in a discussion regarding the need to fix city classification legislation that was written by the General Assembly in 1994. That legislation said the General Assembly would create a new classification system to replace the population-based city classification system originally created in the Kentucky Constitution. The General Assembly has never done so, leaving the original population-based classification system as the only existing classification system in the state of Kentucky.
This situation figured prominently in the battle over a restaurant tax ordinance passed by current city council members Tony Bishop, Marty Fulkerson, Kenny Lewis and Mayor David Willmoth, Jr. in 2007. Elizabethtown still classifies itself as a fourth-class city, making it technically eligible for a restaurant tax. According to the population-based city class system, a fourth-class city has a population of less than 8,000. Opponents of the restaurant tax point out that Elizabethtown’s population exceeded 20,000 in 1997, and had a population of 22,452 in the 2000 U.S. Census. Cities with a population of 20,000 to 99,999 are second-class cities per the population-based class system. Second-class cities are not authorized by Kentucky law to enact a restaurant tax. Elizabethtown’s population is now well over 24,000.