County to get more than expected from Coal Severance funding

Joan Isaacs

There is good news for Pulaski County government - and in turn the Pulaski County Alzheimer's Disease Respite Center - as they will be getting more money than originally believed through the state's Local Government Economic Assistance Fund (LGEAF) coal severance program.

But that money comes with its own set of problems, namely the fact that the county has already cashed out last year's budget, which allocated around $27,000 to the Alzheimer's Center, leaving officials wondering about the mechanics of dealing with the windfall.

Governor Matt Bevin announced Monday that the state collected $15 million more in coal severance tax revenue for the fiscal year 2018-2019 than was expected, meaning all programs that were earmarked to receive funding would get more than originally planned.

For Pulaski County, that means receiving $50,924.97, not quite double the expected amount, but close.

County Treasurer Joan Isaacs explained that tax revenue was for "last year," meaning the fiscal year that closed on June 30.

The county budgeted $27,000 to the Alzheimer's Center, then paid the center out of it's own coffers with the expectation of being reimbursed.

"We've not been reimbursed by the state," Isaacs said. The funds announced Monday are, presumably, those reimbursements.

Isaacs said the county has not received word directly from the state of when they will receive that money or whether all of it is intended for the Alzheimer's Center.

"We don't allocate those funds. We receive them," she explained.

State Representative Tommy Turner had a hand last year in securing the coal severance funding specifically for the center. The state doles out the money to government entities, but also designates where the funding is to go.

According to the state, LGEA funds can be used for public safety, environmental protection, public transportation, health, recreation, libraries and educational facilities, social services, industrial and economic development, and workforce training.

Along with county government, the state's announcement listed several Pulaski cities as receiving funds:

• Burnside - $252.22

• Eubank - $116.82

• Ferguson - $381.43

• Science Hill - $286.07

• Somerset - $4,621.77

The LGEAF is a program of revenue sharing, where tax revenue collected from coal and non-coal severance taxes is returned to eligible local governments.

"Eligibility in the LGEAF coal severance program occurs if a county is a coal 'producer' or if there is significant transportation of coal through the county," according to the state.

The total amount of revenue collected for 2018-2019 was $92.9 million. The state had expected to collect around $77.9 million.

Governor Bevin said, "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."

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