Perry County will be receiving a large amount of coal severance tax dollars this year after the passing of the state's budget in the past legislative session. According to a release received last week from Senator Daniel Mongiardo, a total of $4.9 million is currently scheduled for allocation in Perry County. In 2004, Perry County received no coal severance tax dollars due to the lack of a state budget.
The coal severance tax was put into place in 1972 and presently levies a 5% tax on every ton of coal removed in Kentucky. The tax was supported by Governor Wendell Ford in the early 1970s, and was originally intended to support the general fund. Over the years, increasing pressure on Kentucky's legislative body to place more funds into the coal mining counties came about, and in 1992 the lawmaking body gave the coal counties 50% of the revenues brought in for the tax. Today, a little over fifty percent goes into the general fund, while the rest is dispersed into the counties that are impacted the most by coal mining, such as Perry County.
Upon request of Perry County Judge Executive Denny Ray Noble, the county is slated to receive funding for several projects from coal severance tax dollars. Projects such as water expansion will be receiving the majority of the funds, but agencies such as the Perry County Sheriff's Office will be receiving $200,000 from the tax.
Perry County Chief Deputy Randy Poff stated that when the department receives the funds he will put in requests for several items. Those items include new vehicles for the deputies, possibly utility vehicles that are more practical for some of the back roads the deputies have to travel upon. Poff also noted other possible items to be requested would be forensic equipment (which would primarily consist of fingerprinting and evidence collection equipment), tactical vests, hand held radar units, thermal sensors for the evening shift deputies, and more modern firearms.
As for the county projects overseen by the Fiscal Court, Judge Noble stated that several of these projects are slated to receive an abundance of funds. In addition, Perry County will begin an active tourism board to promote and generate ideas to strengthen the tourism in Perry County and the surrounding areas. "This money is a great way to lure people to our community to show off what Perry County has to offer," State Representative Brandon Smith, who worked with fellow legislators to secure these tax dollars for the county, was quoted as saying in a release from his office. "Each tourist that comes to visit spends money not only at their destination, but in food, lodging, memorabilia, it is an incredible investment." The board is slated to receive $170,000 to begin with, and the county will be hiring a tourism coordinator in accordance with the board.
Also on tap is a planned $200,000 to the Wendell Ford Airport for a runway extension which would add 500 feet, extending the runway from 5,000 to 5,500 feet. This move will allow for bigger aircraft to take off from and land at the airport.
Other projects and agencies scheduled for funding in Perry County:
South Perry Water Project - $1,238,880
Squabble Creek Water Project - $100,000
City of Hazard Emergency Equipment - $200,000
Ajax Water Extension Project - $50,000
Acup/Millseed Water Project - $120,000
Rowdy Water Project - $450,000
Global Positioning System for 911 Center - $100,000
Battle of Leatherwood Reenactment for years 2005-2006 - $20,000
Senior Citizens Center for years 2005-2006 - $40,000
Joshua's Dream Foundation - $150,000