The state announced Monday that more than $15 million in excess coal severance tax money is being allocated to 49 counties and 122 cities that are qualified to receive funds from the Local Government Economic Assistance Fund.

In this area, Muhlenberg County is receiving $460,163.08; Daviess, $297,691.84; McLean, $265,672.85; and Ohio, $110,432.23.

Sixteen area cities will receive amounts ranging from $315.80 in Whitesville to $32,761.07 in Owensboro.

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Here are the area cities and the amounts they'll receive:

Beaver Dam, $24,685.64; Bremen, $844.23; Calhoun, $7,374.97; Centertown, $3,063.08; Central City, $25,618.18; Drakesboro, $2,206.99; Fordsville, $3,794.45; Greenville, $18,478.69; Hartford, $19,348.79; Livermore, $13,193.75; McHenry, $2,809.63; Owensboro, $32,761.07; Rockport, $1,926.19; Sacramento, $4,523.57; South Carrollton, $788.52; and Whitesville, $315.80.

Last month, McLean Fiscal Court had to open a line of credit in order to pay its bills.

Now, it has $265,673 coming in from coal severance.

"Coal seems to be the lifeblood of this county," Judge-Executive Edward West said. "Who would have thought that little McLean County was about to be the fifth-largest coal county in the state. Now, we're getting these $25-an-hour jobs in the coal industry. We need those jobs. If you see them (coal workers) in the store, buy them a drink -- nonalcoholic, of course, because we're a dry county. I can definitely see more light at the end of the tunnel now."

Daviess Judge-Executive Al Mattingly thanked the governor and legislature for "keeping their promise to return more coal severance money to local governments. We can certainly use it. I'm not sure which hole we'll plug, but the money is certainly welcome."

Judge-Executive Curtis McGehee of Muhlenberg County said the money is more than the county received last year.

"[The funds are] certainly needed," he said. "Especially in counties like Muhlenberg with high unemployment and jobs being scarce. We have plenty to spend it on. It's very positive for us. We hope coal severance continues on an upward trend."

Judge-Executive David Johnson in Ohio County said he was expecting the amount that the county received.

"We'll put it into our needs assessment pool," he said. "It's always needed."

The Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill in 2018 that directs that if the coal severance tax collected for a fiscal year exceeds the state's official estimate, all of the excess funds will go to local governments.

The state had projected tax revenue of $77.9 million this year, but actually collected $92.9 million.

Last year, $11.06 million in excess fees was collected.

This year, it was $15 million.

The funds can be used for public safety, environmental protection, public transportation, health, recreation, libraries and educational facilities, social services, industrial and economic development and workforce training.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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