A “long-awaited” tax settlement by the Kentucky Department of Revenue with the governor of West Virginia will see tens of thousands of dollars paid to entities in Pike County, but, according to a local official, more than $1 million has already been paid to the county.
According to a statement from the Department of Revenue, the agency reached a settlement with three companies owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice — Kentucky Fuels, Inc., Sequoia Energy, LLC, and A and G Coal, Inc. — for delinquent taxes owed to four Kentucky counties, including Pike County. According to the statement, Harlan, Knott and Magoffin counties will also benefit from the settlement, with more than half of the tax revenue collected through the settlement benefiting local school districts, libraries, fire departments and county extension offices.
According to the statement, the finance cabinet “spearheaded negotiations with the companies and worked with the local county attorneys to ensure those counties were in agreement on the amount of taxes that were due.”
It is unclear, however, how much the settlement totaled. Pamela Turner, a spokesperson with the state finance cabinet, said the amount to be paid by Justice’s companies could not be given by the state since it was reached as part of a settlement.
Pike County Attorney Howard Keith Hall said, however, that much of the delinquent tax balance owed to Pike County by companies owned by the Justice family has already been paid. Hall said Pike County has collected approximately 90 percent of Justice’s delinquent balance, totaling more than $1 million.
“We’re down to the last few dollars now,” Hall said.
Tonnie Keene, a representative with Pike County’s tax office, said Kentucky Fuels, which is the only Justice company owing taxes in Pike County, has already paid more than $1.3 million to the county as part of previously agreed-upon payment agreement with the Pike County Attorney’s Office. She said Kentucky Fuels had two outstanding tax bills — the 2013 and 2015 bills — totaling more than $1,372,000. Keene said the remaining balance on those bills is just more than $47,000.
Keene said the tax office received a payment last week of nearly $177,500 which was applied to any other tax delinquency other than the $47,000 remaining from the 2013 and 2015 bills.
Keene said Kentucky Fuels has also agreed to pay $29,000 per month for the next six months in order to pay off its 2016 tax bill and the $47,000 remaining from the 2015 bill. That total payoff is approximately $210,000.
“We’re glad that we’re collecting,” she said. “And we’ve collected well. They’ve honored their agreement pretty good. You pay $1.3 million out and you’ve got a remaining balance of $47,000 is pretty good.”
The largest benefactor of the tax payments in Pike County is the Pike County Schools District. Superintendent Reed Adkins said the district will receive 60 percent of the revenue collected from Kentucky Fuels. Of the approximately $210,000 left to be paid by Kentucky Fuels, the Pike County Schools District could receive more than $126,000.
“We’ve already collected quite a bit of what was owed and this additional collection will be a major help for our school system,” Adkins said. “This tax collection will undoubtedly mean we’ll be able to offer more and better programs to our students.”
Pike County Sheriff Rodney Scott said his department will also benefit. He said the Pike County Sheriff’s Office will receive 3 percent of the total collected by the school district, as well as 4 percent of the total collected by the county.
“Every little bit helps,” Scott said. “We still need new vehicles, among other things. We’ll use the money as best we can.”