Kentucky Cities FAQs (Secretary of State)

​​Does the Secretary of State provide guidance for filing city boundary changes pursuant to KRS 81A.470?

Yes. The Secretary of State's office provides a checklist to ensure all components of the statutorily-required filing are submitted.​

What agencies receive KRS 81A.470 filings?
The Secretary of State and the County Clerk receive KRS 81A.470 filings.

What is the basis for the interactive maps on the Kentucky Cities website?
The interactive maps on this website are based on the boundary statements that cities were required to file with the Secretary of State's office pursuant to KRS 81.045, approved in 1980 and repealed in 2015. All changes to city boundaries, such as annexations, severances, and transfers, are added to the interactive map as KRS 81A.470 submissions are approved by this office.

How can incorrect information concerning our mayors' name, meeting times, & office hours be corrected? 
Please e-mail requests for edits to the Land Office.  The information on the website will be edited upon receipt. (Thank you)

Why isn't my city listed in your database?
Existing cities that complied with KRS 81.045 and new cities incorporated under KRS 81.050 and KRS 81.060 are included in the Secretary of State's Kentucky Cities website. Information from 1942-1980 filings submitted to the Office of Secretary of State is included as a matter of historical interest. Kentucky Communities that did not comply with KRS 81.045 were recently added to our searchable database but they are not included in our listing of “Active Cities."

What is an "unincorporated urban place"?
An unincorporated urban place is any area outside of incorporated cities that has a population of 2,500 or more, as shown by the most recent decennial census of the United States. Unincorporated urban places are eligible for municipal aid funds, with apportionment determined by revenue estimates (see KRS 177.366). KRS 81.015 identifies the following as unincorporated urban places:  Fairdale, Parkers Lake, Whitley City, Smithtown, Stearns, and Pine Knot.

Why does your listing of "county seats" list 122 cities if there are only 120 counties?
Two Kentucky counties have two cities listed as county seats. Campbell County lists Alexandria and Newport as the county seat; Kenton County lists Independence and Covington as the county seat.

What is an area development district (ADD)?
An ADD is a regional organization that assists in the formulation and implementation of human resource and infrastructure-related plans. In 1967, pursuant to Executive Order 67-233, Kentucky was divided into 15 multi-county regions for planning purposes. In 1971, pursuant to Executive Order 71-267, ADDs were established as the official regional planning and development agencies for their respective areas. In 1972, the Kentucky General Assembly enacted legislation (now found in KRS 147A.050-140) that provides the basic organizational structure for ADDs.

Why is a link to our city's website not included on the Secretary of State's Kentucky Cities website?
The Land Office is making every effort to include all non-commercial links to city websites on its Kentucky Cities website. Due to changes in URL addresses and the constant development of new city websites, this office is not always made aware of additions and revisions that need to be made. Please notify the office of any non-commercial city links that should appear on your city page by contacting:

Land Office
Secretary of State
Capitol Building
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-3490

Who compiled the Census information for the Kentucky Cities database?
The Kentucky State Data Center, University of Louisville, supplied the city population totals & estimates used on the Kentucky Cities website. For other demographic information regarding Kentucky, visit the Kentucky State Data Center's website.

What are the Land Office's references for incorporation and establishment dates and historical notations?
Filings by city governments, Acts of the Kentucky General Assembly, The Kentucky Encyclopedia, Glenn Clift's publication on Kentucky Cities and research by Dr. Eugene Harrell, former director of the Land Office provide the basis for incorporation and establishment dates & historical notations.

Are copies of city by-laws or charters filed with the Office of the Secretary of State?
No. To obtain information regarding governmental structure and procedures, please contact your local city hall.

Where did the Land Office obtain the photographs on the Kentucky Cities website?
More than 100 photographs of Kentucky cities are included on this website. Non-copyrighted pictures may be submitted by mailing a CD or emailing them to the Secretary of State's Land Office. If more than one picture is submitted and approved for inclusion on a city's page, the photos will appear in random sequence.

What is a "Commonwealth"?
According to The Historical Atlas of Kentucky and Her Counties (Wendell H. Rone, Sr.), the two designations "Commonwealth" and "State" were synonymous in the late 1700s. The Historical Atlas states:

"The term Commonwealth goes back to the time of Oliver Cromwell when he created the Commonwealth of States or Colonies of Great Britain. 'Commonweal'-for the good of all-was the meaning implied. Virginia, Massachusetts, & Pennsylvania were Commonwealths of Great Britain. A Commonwealth in America is a State having its immediate outgrowth from one of the original Colonies."

In his article in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, Ron Bryant states:

"Commonwealth is a part of the official name of Kentucky, as decided by the first Assembly on June 4, 1792.... The first use of the word commonwealth in official documents regarding Kentucky occurred in 1785, when the inhabitants of the Kentucky District petitioned Virginia to recognize Kentucky as a 'free and independent state, to be known by the name of the 'Commonwealth of Kentucky'."

How was city classification determined & when was it changed?
The 1891 Kentucky Constitution was the first of Kentucky's four constitutions to base legislative districts on population. Section 156 established a system of classification that assigns cities to one of six classes based on the following population levels:

  • First Class - 100,000 or more
  • Second Class - 20,000 to 99,999
  • Third Class - 8,000 to 19,999
  • Fourth Class - 3,000 to 7,999
  • Fifth Class - 1,000 to 2,999
  • Sixth Class - 999 or less

In 1994, Section 156 of the 1891 Kentucky Constitution was repealed and replaced by Sections 156a and 156b (pertaining to municipal home rule for cities). Pursuant to Section 156a:

"The General Assembly may provide for the creation, alteration of boundaries, consolidation, merger, dissolution, government, functions, and officers of cities. The General Assembly shall create such classifications of cities as it deems necessary based on population, tax base, form of government, geography, or any other reasonable basis and enact legislation relating to the classification. All legislation relating to cities of a certain classification shall apply equally to all cities within the same classification. The classification of all cities and the law pertaining to the classifications in effect at the time of adoption of this section shall remain in effect until otherwise provided by law."

City classification is now determined pursuant to KRS 81.005, the Municipal Reclassification Reform Act, which became effective January 1, 2015. The Act divides cities into two classes: First Class (formerly Classification 1) and Home Rule Class (formerly Classifications 2 through 6). Cities were required to submit an acknowledgement of the new classification and a statement declaring the city's year of incorporation and form of government to the Office of the Secretary of State no later than January 1, 2015. “Acknowledgment of Classification" forms are available for viewing on each city's page on the Kentucky Cities website.  Any city that failed to comply with the filing requirement was barred from receiving state moneys until the notice of reclassification was submitted.

Please explain the "Map Status" labels mean?
"In Progress" means the submission was accepted by the Secretary of State's Office and has been copied for the Division of Geographic Information.

"Unmappable" means that although the submission was accepted by the Secretary of State's Office, the filing lacks sufficient information for the Division of Geographic Information (Commonwealth Office of Technology) to place the annexed/severed/transferred area on the interactive map. There may be a hyperlink to additional information regarding the reason the submission was not mappable.

"Mappable" means that the submission was accepted by the Secretary of State's Office and the annexed/severed/transferred area was added to the city's interactive map by the Division of Geographic Information (Commonwealth Office of Technology). ​