Floyd County Judge-Executive Robbie Williams reported Monday that the fiscal court is getting about $626,000 in excess coal severance funding.
It’s part of $15 million in Local Government Economic Assistance funds that Gov. Matt Bevin reported will be allocated to 49 counties and 122 cities.
A press release from Bevin’s office explained that if actual coal severance tax revenues collected for the fiscal year exceeds the official estimates provided by the state to local governments, then the excess revenues will be allocated to the LGEA program. State officials estimated $77.9 million in coal severance tax revenues, Bevin’s office reported, and actually received $92.9 million, leaving $15 million in excess funds.
Several Floyd County cities will also receive coal severance, Bevin’s office reported. Disbursements will total $2,500 in Allen, $8,300 in Martin, $42,800 in Prestonsburg, $10,300 in Wheelwright and $5,600 in Wayland.
Williams called the announcement “great news” during a special meeting on Monday. The fiscal court budget called for an allocation of $200,000 in coal severance. County Attorney Keith Bartley and Williams voiced cautious optimism about the disbursement.
“What you’ve got to realize, too, is that, that’s for coal that was mined last year, last quarter, and this year could be totally different and, certainly is looking like it’s going to be totally different,” Bartley said.
Williams said the fiscal court should spend the money wisely.
“Absolutely, with the downturn in the market,” he said. “So, we can’t rush to go ahead and spend this money as soon as we get it in. It’s nice to have a little something to work with down the road.”
At the meeting, the fiscal court approved spending $200,000 in coal severance funding for senior citizens centers in the county. Members approved a resolution designating payments of $57,000 to Martin Senior Citizens and about $28,600 each to senior citizens centers in Betsy Layne, McDowell, Mud Creek, Prestonsburg and Wheelwright.
The funds will be used for meals, transportation, staff and activities, the resolution states.
During the meeting, the fiscal court also reversed an action it took at another special meeting last week, when members gave Williams authority to buy two new senior citizens vehicles without seeking bids for the purchases.
At Monday’s special meeting, Treasurer David Layne said that the fiscal court voided the $47,500 check it approved paying last week to Pop’s Chevrolet for two 2020 Chevy Equinox vehicles that will be used at senior citizens centers. At the time of last week’s vote, members said the $23,755 the county was paying for each of the vehicles was state bid price, but a review of master agreements approved by the state did not include quotes approved for Pop’s Chevrolet. The vehicles listed on state contracts were 2018 Equinox models and cost slightly less than what the fiscal court agreed to pay.
The county obtained a $24,275 grant to buy the vehicles and Layne previously reported that senior citizen centers would pay about $15,000 toward the cost, leaving the fiscal court a bill of about $6,900.
The resolution approved Monday explained that the USDA grant used to buy the vehicles was over two years old, that the vehicles were “desperately needed” by senior citizens centers and the fiscal court would spend less than $7,000 for them. It said that Williams “felt it was not practical to formally use the competitive sealed bidding practice but choose to use the competitive negotiation method” permitted by state law.
The resolution states that after speaking with a USDA representative, however, “it is suggested that local governmental agencies advertise bids for the purchase of the vehicles.”
“We may get a better price. May get a worse price, but we’re going to bid it,” Williams said.
The fiscal court will accept bids for the purchases until 3 p.m. on Aug. 19. Members also approved seeking bids for the purchase of a Ford Explorer for the sheriff’s department with another $21,800 USDA grant, citing the same USDA official’s suggestion. Those bids will also be opened on Aug. 19.