Union Co. leads state’s coal production, receives biggest share of excess coal severance tax revenues

Union Co. leads state’s coal production, receives biggest share of excess coal severance tax revenue

UNION CO., Ky. (WFIE) - $15 million in excess coal severance money will be going back communities across the Commonwealth.

Governor Matt Bevin made the announcement Monday.

Several local counties and cities are on the list to receive some of that money.

The number one coal-producing county in the state is in Union County.

Their Judge-Executive says he’s both thankful and excited as they look for the best fit on how to use this money.

49 counties and 122 cities or towns across Kentucky will share the $15 million in excess coal severance tax revenues.

“This is money that we can use in our budget now,” Union County Judge-Executive Adam O’Nan said.

The annual projection for the fiscal year 2019 in coal severance tax revenue was just under $78 million. Actual revenues collected pushed $93 million, which leaves behind more than $15 million in extra money. Kentucky laws direct any surplus money to go back to local governments.

"There are not a lot of restrictions on that like there are some of our single-county money which are for fire departments and things of that nature,” O’Nan described.

This money can be used for needs such as public safety, environmental protection, public transportation, or economic development.

"Jails are expensive to run, 911 centers are expensive to run, so we’ll take a good look to see where these monies will be best used and hopefully build some reserves we may need in the future as well,” O’Nan explained.

The state’s coal-producing leader, Union County, is set to receive the most at $1.8 million. It’s the home of River View Coal which O’nan says employees around 900 people and produces one-third of the entire state’s coal production.

“Specifically, River View here in Union County produces twice their nearest competitor over in eastern Kentucky which is typically Pike County,” O’Nan calculated.

14 News also reached out to Kentucky Coal Association leaders who say it’s important for coal communities to keep their severance dollars but need to look at modernizing the system.

"In order for Kentucky coal to continue being competitive with neighboring states, we need to be careful on how we look at generating revenue with regards as using taxation as a model to do that,” President of the Kentucky Coal Association, Tyler White, said.

Every county in our Kentucky viewing except for Hancock County will be receiving part of this money. Their collective total is more than $4.6 million which is just under a third of the $15 million.

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