UPike needs funds to become a public university

By Jerrika Insco | 

The University of Pikeville is a private university striving to become public but funding has to be in place to do that.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo proposed a bill that would pull millions of dollars a year in coal severance tax money for that purpose instead of general fund money.

The investment in Pikeville would be 14 million dollars from a multi-county coal severance fund.

Twelve counties would be affected and one of those is Harlan County.

"This is a complicated issue that needs to be worked out," said Harlan County Magistrate David Kennedy.

One that the Harlan County Fiscal Court unanimously decided is not fair.

County officials say 14 million guaranteed dollars to the University of Pikeville is just too much.

"We feel strongly that this money could come from other sources or at least significantly be reduced and reduce the length of time that it is provided," said Harlan County Judge Executive Joe Grieshop.

Judge Grieshop along with the five magistrates agree that UPike becoming a public university would not benefit Harlan County.

The Harlan County Fiscal Court's main concern is that this transaction would hurt them in the long run.

Instead, the multi-county coal severance tax dollars could be used to fund projects in their region.

"We have schools and community colleges in our areas that are suffering economically too and we need to fund those," said Kennedy.

Plus, Judge Grieshop expects their funds will be limited soon.

"I'm fully expecting a 20% reduction in coal severance taxes in our county and our region this year," said Judge Grieshop.

Kennedy says it is a terrible time to take on any added costs and the county simply cannot afford it.

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