Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Counties looking at budget cuts due to dwindling coal severance money

HAZARD, Ky --- It is no secret that coal production is down in some eastern Kentucky counties, and less production means less coal severance money for counties in the area.

Coal severance money is used to fund anything from county road departments, jails, fire departments and special projects like the Sportsplex in Knott County.

Knott County Deputy Judge Executive Greg Mullins says the county has lost about $1.2 million this year.

Mullins now fears the payroll for people who work at these places may be cut along with other services in the county that people depend on.

In Harlan County, Judge Executive Joe Grieshop says at this time they will not have to make any layoffs.

He says he anticipated the loss in coal severance funding, but the dwindling coal severance is causing them to make adjustments in their budget especially in the road department.

State Representative Fitz Steele has pre-filed legislation that would keep 100 percent of coal severance money in the counties where it was produced, but critics say it is not likely to pass.