The bulk of those dollars – $13.5 million – will be allocated to counties.
The distribution is a result of HB 200, enacted by the 2018 General Assembly, which says if actual coal severance tax revenue collected for a fiscal year exceeds the official estimate provided by the Office of the State Budget Director, all of that excess revenue gets allocated to the LGEAF coal severance program.
Counties eligible to receive LGEAF funds include those that are coal producers (producer counties) or if there is significant transportation of coal through the county (impact counties).
The 24 impact counties will collectively receive $1.35 million and the 25 producer counties will receive $12.16 million. Three counties – Harlan, Pike and Union – will receive more than $1 million each.
“We are excited to announce more than $15 million in additional coal severance funding that will be returning to Kentucky counties and cities,” said Gov. Bevin in a press release. “I am grateful to our state legislators who helped us ensure that 100 percent of excess coal severance revenue is directed back to our local governments. These extra LGEA funds will enable cities and counties to bolster public safety, economic development, critical infrastructure, and other vital community needs.”
The governor’s press release included reactions from County Judge/Executives from across the Commonwealth about the news:
Judge/Executive Adam O'Nan - Union County
"We are grateful for this collaborative effort displayed by the Coal County officials, the Governor’s office and the General Assembly to include the language in HB 200 to return the excess severance revenue to the counties," said Union County Judge/Executive Adam O'Nan. "These funds will provide essential services to Union County that will meet direct needs of our citizens. We look forward to working with Gov. Bevin and the General Assembly to return all of these funds in the next budget to provide relief the rural counties desperately need."
Judge/Executive Ray Jones - Pike County
"At a time when many Eastern Kentucky counties are struggling, the allocation of this additional coal severance tax revenue will be a shot in the arm that will allow many fiscal courts to stabilize their county budgets," said Pike County Judge/Executive Ray Jones. "The return of these funds by the Governor and the General Assembly will be instrumental in assisting Pike County and other local governments in meeting the needs in our communities."
Judge/Executive Dan Mosley - Harlan County
“Our current situation in Harlan County, with 225-plus miners that have been laid off, proves why we must continue to invest these precious coal severance dollars in economic development," said Harlan County Judge/Executive Dan Mosley. "We must continue to diversify our economy so that we can provide our citizens stable employment for the future. I am elated that coal severance receipts were higher than projected last fiscal year and am grateful that Gov. Bevin and the state legislature agree that these funds should come back to where they belong—to coal producing counties so that we may invest in ways that give our people employment opportunities."
Judge/Executive Jack Whitfield - Hopkins County
"The return of over $700,000 in coal severance monies to Hopkins County is a huge boost," said Hopkins County Judge/Executive Jack Whitfield. "This money will be a great help to our infrastructure and economic development. We want to express our gratitude to the Governor and the General Assembly for passing HB 265 which made this possible. We are especially grateful to the coal miners and coal companies that support Hopkins County and all of Kentucky. These men and women work hard every day to provide for their families and support our local economies."
Judge/Executive Scott Alexander - Perry County
"The return of these funds is of upmost importance to Perry County and will enable us to pursue economic development opportunities," said Perry County Judge/Executive Scott Alexander. "These dollars will serve as matching funds to leverage additional grants for projects that will result in the creation of jobs which is crucial for Perry County and the region."
Judge/Executive Robbie Williams - Floyd County
"We are excited to hear the news of the $676,000 in coal severance funds returning to Floyd County," said Floyd County Judge/Executive Robbie Williams. "I want to thank our coal miners, truckers and everyone who worked so hard to make this possible. These funds will help shore up our budget and catch up on some much needed infrastructure repairs. I would like to thank our state and local officials for their ongoing support."
Judge/Executive Jeff Dobson - Knott County
“I am beyond grateful to Gov. Bevin and the General Assembly for acknowledging the financial stress of Knott County and the other coal counties and seeing that these coal severance dollars are being returned to the coal counties," said Knott County Judge/Executive Jeff Dobson. "These funds willl help address dire needs in our communities."