County prioritizes severance projects, prepares for future losses
HAZARD — The Perry County Fiscal Court met on Thursday for a special called meeting in order to reprioritize this year’s coal severance funded projects for the county.
The court voted unanimously to approve putting three projects that had not been funded last year onto the top of the list for the “Priority Resolution for HB 265 Coal Severance Line-Item Projects” for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
“We have to do that because they was issued that money and we have to make sure they get it,” Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble said after the meeting. “If not, they’d have lost it (the money).”
Noble explained the resolution is something the court does every year with the area’s representative and senator to plan out the projects for the next two fiscal years and is subject to change anytime the court is presented with a higher priority project in the county.
“We meet with the senators and representative every year and we try to pick out, they work with us to try to pick out the most-needed projects in the county,” he said
The three items being bumped to the top this year are $75,000 for Community Ministries, $50,000 for the homeless shelter, and $100,000 for the city of Vicco operations and maintenance.
Noble said these three projects are things that are funded every year, however, with layoffs in the coal industry numbering close to 6,000 in the last two years, he said it was impossible to pay them with the coal severance funds taken in last year.
“They didn’t get it last year because it never was paid in, that money wasn’t paid in. It wasn’t there,” Noble said.
Other projects listed on the resolution include funding for county bond payments, $500,000 for water projects in South Perry, and funding for the new sewer plant in Chavies.
Noble said with the state of the economy and the coal industry right now, and with more layoffs looming on the horizon, there may be as many as seven projects postponed until next year due to lack of funding this year. This could include funding for the Challenger Learning Center, the Care Cottage, the Little Flower Free Clinic, airport maintenance, and the three projects reprioritized this year.
“If you go over the figures and you know anything about coal and you know what we know and what local government is predicting,” he said. “Always before we had money left over, now we’re losing money.”
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