Pike County faces economic challenge with lowered bond rating

Published: May. 29, 2018 at 5:49 PM EDT
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As officials in Pike County prepare to grow the economy, a major change may be a hard setback.

Recently a financial investment firm downgraded Pike County's bond rating, which could change how the county moves into the future.

In the past, generation after generation, the stories remained the same.

"A young boy could graduate from high school, he could marry his sweetheart that he had in high school, they could get married and get a trailer and put it on property at his mom and dad's house," said Bobby Varney, a Pike County Magistrate.

Jobs in the coal industry provided a stable life for many.

However, in recent years the coal industry declined and thousands left the region to find work.

Counties in Eastern Kentucky lost millions in coal severance money.

"I want to say it was 2009 or 2010, one of those years, we got a little over 7 million dollars in coal severance money," said Varney. "Last year pike county got 260,000 dollars."

Earlier this month S&P Global, a financial investment firm in New York City, downgraded Pike County's bond rating from an A+ to a BB.

This means the county could pay an extremely high interest rate or be denied funding for future projects.

Some are concerned that will have a negative impact on the next generation.

"But that middle bunch, that C average bunch in the middle that was coal miners, that was garbage truck drivers, there's not even a lot of jobs out there for them to even compete with," said Varney.

Many fear the county's finances may jeopardize future projects bringing job opportunities.

Officials said the Pike County Fiscal Court is meeting Thursday to discuss the county's budget and financial concerns.

You can read S&P Global's official report below. If you are viewing on our mobile app, follow the link to view on a web browser.