Coal Counties Seek Help
Judge executives from eastern Kentucky’s coal counties are seeking changes in the state’s formula for distributing revenues from the coal severance tax. They say the decline in coal production has severely impacted their budgets and they want more of the money the Commonwealth collects.
JT Ward is the judge in Letcher County. He says the coal slump has reduced his budget by 1.3 million dollars in just one year…
"…because that’s money that we use to run our jails, do sanitation, our 911 systems, our senior citizens systems…all this money is put in there to help us make it better and improve…the economic development for the citizens in our counties." - JT Ward
Ward testified before a panel of state lawmakers in Frankfort last week. Bell County Judge Albey Brock says the situation calls for bold action…
"If you don’t do something rather drastic and outside the box, you are going to have counties failing to be able provide essential services…some in which the state has mandated that we do. How we deal with that…I hope we don’t have to have that discussion." - Albey Brock
Brock says the decline in the coal industry could still get worse. He fears it hasn’t yet bottomed out.