HAZARD, KY. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear traveled to Hazard and Jackson to present more than $5 million in grants, in collaboration with the Department for Local Government (DLG), to improve eastern Kentucky communities, according to officials.
They say he also discussed coal severance tax revenue.
In Governor Beshear’s budget proposal, officials say returning every coal severance dollar back to coal-producing counties, after paying the required debt service on water and sewer infrastructure and the state’s administrative costs.
They say Gov. Beshear estimates this would mean $18 million in additional funding for coal counties over the 2020-2022 biennium.
“Our coal miners have worked hard in dangerous conditions for decades to keep the lights on for all of our families,” said Gov. Beshear. “This $18 million is not everything they need or deserve, but it’s a start. We want to rebuild the economies in our coal communities to better serve Kentucky families after devastating losses in the industry.”
Gov. Beshear awarded Perry County Fiscal Court with over $4 million in funding for two projects.
“These grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission are much appreciated,” said Sen. Brandon Smith of Hazard. “These resurfacing projects will have a tremendous impact on the Commonwealth and I look forward to their expansion.”
Upon completion, this project will improve productivity for SYKES and will create 200 full-time jobs.
“SYKES is proud to have served the Hazard community for more than 20 years, and thanks to this upcoming renovation, we are thrilled to offer both current and future employees not just great career opportunities, but a beautiful new work environment where they can come every day and truly thrive in their jobs,” said SYKES Senior Vice President Todd McReynolds. “We are grateful to Gov. Beshear and the state of Kentucky for making it possible for us to better serve the people of Hazard.”
Officials at the governors office said due to outdated waterlines, the City of Jackson has a higher than average water loss record, causing losses in revenue for the water district and gaps in service for customers.
They say to remedy this issue, Gov. Beshear presented the City of Jackson with a total of $2 million in ARC and CDBG funding.
“We are so excited to receive this much needed funding to update our infrastructure in Jackson,” said Mayor Laura Thomas. “Many of our existing waterlines have exceeded their useful life, and new waterlines will help reduce our high water loss, reduce the number of water line breaks, and relieve stress on our overworked water plant. Thank you to Gov. Beshear and the folks with CDBG and ARC for providing access to funding that allows us to better serve the people of Jackson and Breathitt County.”