Whitesburg KY

Oil severance taxes have surpassed coal, county officials say

Letcher County’s annual operating budget is expected to increase by $900,000 this year because of a spike in natural gas production.

A draft budget prepared by Judge/Executive Jim Ward and presented to the Letcher Fiscal Court at its April meeting this week, estimates the county government will have a total of $8,508,602 with which to operate in Fiscal Year 2009-10, which begins July 1.

County Treasurer Phillip Hampton explained to the county’s five magistrates on Monday night that an increase in severance tax receipts from natural gas production accounted for the $900,000 increase over last year’s budget.

Ward said he expects the amount of gas tax to grow to $1 million by the time the county gets its final severance allotment for the year.

Hampton said that during the last two quarters the county has received more money from severance taxes on natural gas than it has in coal. He said he expects the same to hold true for the final quarter of the current fiscal year.

The budget proposed by Ward and presented to the other five court members for their input features a two percent raise for county workers.

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