WHEELING - Ohio County received its first installment in new coal severance money - $21,000 - thanks to the state Legislature's Coal County Reallocation Severance Tax.
"This year, coal producing counties will receive an additional 1 percent in coal severance funds. I understand that over the next five years that will go up 1 percent until you get a max of 5 percent," Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart said.
Stewart said the first installment of an additional 1 percent has yielded the county an extra $21,000. The coal severance tax revenue the county will receive this fiscal year will total $100,000. The money is given quarterly.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Tunnel Ridge’s coal silos tower over W.Va. 2 in Ohio County.
"Those funds are restricted to go towards development and infrastructure in particular," he said.
All West Virginia counties, coal-producing or not, receive a portion of the tax money paid by coal companies. The reallocation severance tax, however, gives coal-producing counties additional funds. About $7.7 million was distributed to coal-producing counties this month, according to the state treasurer's office. Ohio County, after many years without one, now has a working coal mine - Tunnel Ridge, a subsidiary of Tulsa, Okla.-based Alliance Resource Partners. The company began underground mining there in spring 2010. The mine's offices are located off Battle Run Road.
Stewart said Wednesday that the coal severance money, along with pipeline easement money the county received last year, both will be used to help municipalities with various infrastructure projects. Some of those projects already have been approved by county commissioners.
For example, last year $30,000 was given to the village of Bethlehem for a water system-related project. And earlier this month, the town of West Liberty was given $48,400 to pay for the installation of Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks.
And the village of Valley Grove's request for $40,000 for a new pump house also was granted.