The Harlan Fiscal Court discussed expectations for the next disbursement of coal severance tax money during a meeting on Tuesday.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley broached the subject late in the meeting.
“Generally, what happens is we get a coal severance number from the state,” Mosley explained. “Everybody gets their projects together. Legislators have input with the projects, then a list is formed.”
Mosley told the court the projection has been late coming out this time around.
“We got the projection on Wednesday,” Mosley said. “The first projection we got was about $2.1 million one year and $1.9 million the second year.”
Mosley said he later got a phone call informing him those projections were inaccurate.
“They called back the following day and said…we were going to be getting $225,000 less one fiscal year and $460,000 the second fiscal year,” Mosley explained.
Mosley said he got together with the magistrates and compiled a “wish list” of things they wanted to fund with coal severance money.
“Of course debt retirement is going to be a priority,” said Mosley. “Our bond payments alone are close to $700,000 a year, and we’re responsible for the Laurels debt. This list I’m submitting to the court today is based on input from everyone including the legislators.”
Mosley told the court the list includes requests for funding in many areas including debt retirement, senior citizens centers, fire departments and rescue squads.
“Of course your district projects are in there,” Mosley said. “I’ve included the cities in there as well as other projects.”
Mosley said the projected coal severance funds are not as low as expected.
“It’s more than I thought we’d have,” Mosley said. “The projection is more than we all thought we’d have to work with. So, that is encouraging. Although it was less than what we hoped, it’s more than what we realistically thought.”
Magistrate David Kennedy commented on the proposal.
“Dan, I think that’s about as good as you’re going to do,” Kennedy said. “You’ve covered every part of Harlan County, you’ve covered the fire departments, senior citizen’s centers…it is what it is.”
Mosley explained even if approved, the request could be changed.
“We could approve this as our tentative prioritized list,” Mosley said. “But, this could change. It could change in the Senate. It could change at the governor’s desk…there are people that thinks the whole budget could be vetoed…this is simply our request our recommendation to legislature.”
Mosley explained the final decision on how much coal severance tax is available and what it will be used for is ultimately up to the legislature.
A motion to approve submitting the request was passed with no opposition.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde