Sharp drop in TVA money leaves Muhlenberg County searching for expense cuts

Kentucky News

MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (WEHT) More than three months after the last coal fired unit at TVA’s Paradise plant in Muhlenberg County was turned off, county officials say the loss of tax money from the utility is much worse than expected.

“We had expected that, perhaps, the budget would be reduced, that the contribution money that we got TVA, that allotted money would be reduced,” said Judge Executive Curtis McGehee.

But he, and other county officials say that reduction was worse than expected. They project a loss of two point three million from the county budget.

“It was devastating news for us as a county. It’s terrible news,” said Terry Nunley, Muhlenberg Co. Jailer.

For 2018, the county got $2.8 million from TVA for its use and production of coal at the paradise plant, but that amount is projected to drop to more than $500,000 for last year. Judge McGehee says it’s a significant loss for the upcoming budget, which is usually around $13 million.

“When you take $2.3 million of revenue out of county government, not only does if affect county government, but it also affects local businesses. The fallout from this will be significant,” he said.

He adds he’s meeting with department heads and other county leaders on how to adjust the budget for the loss, which include possible reductions in expenses and services. Nunley says they’ve saved tens of thousands by switching food service recently, but warns if they have to cut staff, they could be forced to put their inmates in other county jails.

“We have to provide a safe and secure place for the inmates. That’s my job and that’s what I’m going to do. But if we have to cut staff so much that we have to send inmates to other places, we’ll have to do that. That effects the budget also,” he said.

McGehee adds he hopes a decision on the county’s next step is made by its next meeting May 28th.

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(This story was originally published on May 15, 2020)

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