Judge executive considering furloughs, layoffs after ordinance fails

Published: Apr. 11, 2017 at 4:41 PM EDT
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On Monday night, the Letcher County Fiscal Court failed to pass an ordinance calling for a business licensing tax.

The fee died in a 3-3 vote.

The tax would have required businesses extracting non-renewable resources to pay a fee of $2,500 per year for each operation.

"It was a tax that was clearly focused on going after the oil and gas industry," said Michael Robinson, president of Vinland Energy. "The oil and gas industry pays a lot of taxes and we will pay our fair share."

Letcher County Judge Executive Jim Ward estimated the tax would've brought in more than $3.5 million per year. He said this would have helped make up for the 75 percent loss in coal severance tax.

"I was trying to think outside of the box so it wouldn't put a tax directly on the people here," Ward said.

Ward said he must now consider furloughs or layoffs of county workers to deal with the deficit.

"Some of the court members already told me they wouldn't vote for an occupational tax or a net profit tax. They won't vote to raise property taxes. So, that doesn't leave me with very many options," he said.

The Fiscal Court meets again on Monday.