Wise County

Coeburn struggling with finances

Coeburn budget difficulties

WISE COUNTY, Va. - About 2,000 people call Coeburn, Virginia home, but the five people who make up the town council have a challenge ahead.

According to the town mayor, Coeburn is almost out of money.

Mayor Jess Powers tells us the town planned on getting $101,000 in coal severance tax for the fiscal year, but so far they've only collected $31,000. "We knew it was going to be down, but we didn't know how much," adds Powers.

The drop in coal worries some residents like Joel Roberts. "It is a concern because of the coal business and I'm concerned about them too," he said. "The way things are going, I really don't know what they're going to do."

It's not only coal that's contributing to the financial woes. Powers says part of the problem comes from a contract that was signed nearly five years ago with a public works company. The company works on the water and sewage in town.

Powers says the contract doesn't expire until May 2014; until then, Coeburn must pay the company $114,000 a month.

For now each department has been asked to cut their budget as much as they can, and the town council will decide where to go from there.

The mayor says he doesn't want to cut jobs but admits that idea is not off the table. "Worst-case scenario is that we cut services to a bare minimum and try to survive," adds Powers.

The Coeburn Town Council will meet again Monday, December 9. They will have to decide what to do to make sure the town can pay its bills come January.

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