Whitesburg KY

College plan now drawing criticism here and elsewhere

A measure that would take millions in coal severance taxes to place the private University of Pikeville into the state system is starting to draw criticism from local officials in eastern Kentucky.

Harlan County Judge/Executive Joe Grieshop told The Harlan Daily Enterprise that the money should go to the community college system, which has benefited Harlan, Letcher and Bell counties.

“ They failed to recognize the value of our community college system,” Grieshop said.

The Harlan County Fiscal Court last week unanimously passed a resolution opposing the measure, known as House Bill 260.

Letcher County Magistrate Wayne Fleming said he also opposes the bill and hopes the Letcher Fiscal Court will follow the Harlan court’s lead.

Under the proposal, the University of Pikeville, which has about 1,100 full-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs, could reduce tuition from $17,000 to $7,000 a year, making a college education far more affordable for students in a 12-county service area that would extend from Middlesboro in the south to Inez in the north.

The funding source would be coal severance tax revenue that’s earmarked for multi-county economic development projects in the region. Patton said the latest estimates show the tax on mined coal could provide

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