Editor’s note: This story’s original post included the salary for the county road supervisors, which did not take into account that the budgeted figure is for two employees. The story below has been corrected.
HAZARD — The Perry County Fiscal Court met last month to approve the first reading of the county’s budget — one that seems to have been cut drastically since last year to accommodate a lack of federal and state funds.
The budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year has been estimated at $11.9 million, a sharp decrease from last year’s $13.4 million budget. This decrease may have something to do with the anticipated cut in coal severance funding.
Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble said the fiscal court thought it would lose a third of coal severance funding for the next fiscal year, which would have been just under $1 million. Coal severance special projects are budgeted for $1.2 million for the year — a $1.5 million drop compared to last year’s coal severance budget of $2.9 million. This money is used for projects in the county, such as repaving roads or building needed facilities.
“It actually dropped less than we thought it would. We always estimate it more in case something else happens because that’s just an estimated budget and we look for the worst,” Noble said. “But we really think it’ll be about $800,000.”
Noble added the loss was also estimated high to account for any more layoffs in the coal industry. Around 100 Arch Coal employees were laid off last week in Perry and Letcher counties, something that will cause the coal severance tax to decrease in the county.
“Another reason we did that, me and (county treasurer) Tonya (McQueen) talked about it, they (the state) did bonds with the coal severance years ago, and now every coal producing county has to pay those bonds off,” Noble said.
Noble said he has contacted state legislators to see if this rumor is true.
“I heard just last week that they was going to take that coal severance money, now I just heard this now I don’t know if it’s true, and put it in one bundle, pay those bond payments and then distribute it out back to those coal-producing counties. That’s not fair. There won’t be anything left then. That’s the reason we estimated high,” Noble added.
Salaries and benefits for county employees come from the general fund, which is budgeted at just over $3 million. The county judge-executive’s salary, which is determined by the state, for next year will be $86,695, a slight increase from last year’s $85,212. Magistrates’ salaries total to $140,991, an increase from $136,883 last year.
Perry County Treasurer Tonya McQueen said this increase in the magistrates’ salaries is due to a cost-of-living increase approved by the court last year as well as magistrate training.
“Each year, like where Ronald (Combs) is a new magistrate, his first year of training he received $900, his fourth year he’ll receive four times that, so almost $4,000. So, that very well could be what the increase is from,” McQueen said.
The county attorney is projected to receive a salary of $46,039 for next year, an increase from $45,698 last year. The coroner and deputy coroner salaries are $27,047 and $7,040 respectively.
The road fund, which includes salaries and materials for supervisors and projects, will see an increase from last years’ fund of $1.9 million to $2.28 million. The road supervisors’ salaries have been budgeted at $80,100, which will be divided between two employees and represents an increase from last year’s $78,155, while road employees’ salaries are at $700,830, up from $693,245 last year. This will leave $500,000 for road materials and just over $800,000 for bond payments and employee benefits.
The Kentucky River Regional Jail serves two counties in the region, therefore Perry County only pays for part of the overall cost of running the facility along with Knott County. The jail has a budget from Perry County for $2.37 million, a drop from last year’s $2.43 million budget. This drop comes from a significant decrease in insurance costs, which, at this time, are budgeted at zero.
McQueen said this budget of zero is due to the jail not producing enough revenue last year, and these funds will have to be transferred in from other parts of the budget, like the general fund, as the year progresses.
The jailer’s salary is budgeted at $69,357, an increase from last year’s salary of $68,100 due to a cost-of-living raise approved by the court earlier this year.
The Local Government Economic Assistance (LGEA) Fund pays for things like park security, emergency medical services, animal control, solid waste, and senior citizens. In total, the LGEA budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year is $2.2 million, a jump from last year’s $2.08 million budget.
The LGEA budget includes the salary for the head of the EMS, which is $52,106. The dog warden will receive $30,368 this year, an increase from last year’s $29,435. The budget for the staff at the senior citizens center will remain the same as last year’s at $101,500. For patrol of the Perry County Park, $72,000 has been budgeted, a slight increase from last year’s $70,000.
The fiscal court will meet later this month to have the second reading and approval before it is adopted for the next fiscal year.