Pike, several other Eastern Kentucky counties, get tax money back from coal mining

Coal mining is paying off in Kentucky when it comes to taxes.

Each year, a portion of Pike County's budget comes from mining permits and acreage fees refunded from the Department of Natural Resources.

This year, the money is making up $80,000 of the budget.
Public Information Director Brandon Roberts witnesses that money's direct impact on his community.

"Coal is the backbone of the economy here," Roberts said. "It has been and will be for years. The state of our local economy is directly related to the coal business."

It's also having an impact on Pike County Treasurer Johnda Billiter.

"The way the coal mining industry is, you never know from fiscal year to fiscal year what you can receive," Billiter said. "So, we tried to play it a little safe, and we did a good job because this year we reaped the benefits of extra $19,000 with the $99,000 check this year."

However, there have been hard times. This year, those hard times meant layoffs.

"I'd never faced something that drastic in such a short amount of time," Billiter said.

In Pike County, there have only been layoffs two times in nearly 25 years.

"There were some things that got cut back because we have had to cut back where we can," Roberts said. "Maybe this money can supplement some of that, maybe make up for shortfall in other areas."

While $19,000 may look small in comparison to Pike County's $40 million budget, Roberts knows it can go a long way.

"There was more money going to fewer counties. Still, there were six counties who didn't get money at all," he said.

Pike County received the largest refund because it is the largest coal mining county in Kentucky.

Other counties that received refunds include Boyd, Floyd, Johnson, Martin and Magoffin.

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