The Harlan Fiscal Court adopted a final budget Monday at a special called session for the upcoming year that begins in July.
The county’s general fund budget, which includes services such as protection to persons and property, health and sanitation, social services, recreation and culture, airports, debt service, capital projects and administration totaled $6,842,130. The road fund was budgeted at $2,791,000 and the jail fund at $2,542,800.
The LGEA (Local Government Economic Assistance) Fund, a revenue sharing program, which returns a portion of the coal and minerals severance taxes to local governments in areas where the minerals were extracted, was budgeted at $1,244.300. Federal grants for health and sanitation was budgeted at $615,10 and the bond sinking fund at $867,500.
The LGED (The Local Government Economic Development) Fund was budgeted at $3 million. This fund is a revenue sharing program created by the 1992 Kentucky General Assembly to provide coal producing counties with the means to diversify their economies. The governing statute mandates that 35 percent of coal severance tax revenue be returned to coal producing counties. Two thirds of the funds are distributed to individual county accounts using a formula based on coal severance taxes paid from the county, surplus labor rate, relative mining earnings, and relative mining employment. One third of the dollars are reserved for the Multi County Fund for joint projects. Kentucky law limits the use of the LGED Fund to industrial park development projects, regional parks and job development incentive grants made to individual firms. Currently, 39 of the 45 original counties receive coal severance allocations. The E-911 fund was budgeted at $460,500, for a total budget of $18,363,330.
“We are solid at the moment with the projections moving forward don’t look as good because the coal industry is down badly,” said Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop. “There will have to be adjustments as we move along based on what we hear on the coal industry and the actual budget income.”
Grieshop said they “basically used the same budget” they had last year. “We will have to make a few cutbacks that probably should have been done before,” said Grieshop. “But, those will happen as we move along and we’ll keep watching. We want to stay on top of it because the county can’t afford to get behind like a lot of counties around us have because they didn’t make adjustments throughout the year.”
Grieshop said because this is an election year they can only spend 65 percent of the budget for the first half of the year.
“Actually, we’re going to start the year off higher than we were a year ago,” said Grieshop. “In actual dollars available we’re about a half million higher than we were a year ago.”
The magistrates reflected the second reading of the 2015 county budget and proceeded to adopt the 2015 operating budget.
Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-909-4147 or on Twitter @Nola_hde