Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Roger Bedford & State Coal Tax Severance Revenue

Coal tax severance revenue? Those words really tell us a lot about...well, perhaps nothing if you've never heard them before. It seems in many states, Alabama being one of them, a company can't just purchase vast acreages and then do anything with the land, at least when it comes to mining minerals. Some minerals are more valuable than others--coal being one of them. Any coal mining establishment must pay the state a set amount (tax) for removing (severing) the coal from the property. Apparently the profits on such minerals are such that these taxes don't deter said companies from removing the minerals--think strip mining.

So, now we've determined the State of Alabama makes quite a bit of money from this coal tax severance fee, but just what does state government do with it? In 2006, the state legislature passed a law giving the Marion County Community Development Association and the West Alabama Community Development Association of Fayette County the yearly sum of $100,000.00 each. One interesting tidbit about these groups is that they didn't exist. That's right--it was five months after the law was passed that these two organizations were incorporated by State Representatives Mike Millican and William Thigpen, along with State Senator Roger Bedford.

Since 2006, each group has received a total of $400,000.00 on which no Federal tax has been paid. Spokesmen for the two groups claim the entities are set up as non-profit, but the IRS has as yet to declare either one a tax-exempt organization. It seems as if someone has dropped the ball somewhere, but no one wants to admit it. None of the three lawmakers chose to comment on the situation.

Now, we must ask just where this total of $800,000.00 in coal tax severance revenue has gone. It seems that while Millican, Thigpen, and Bedford have frequently spoken of giving the tax money to both schools and volunteer fire departments in their districts, no one can produce any records of this disbursement. Neither has either organization undergone a state audit in the past four years. Has anyone looked behind the scoreboard at the Russellville High School Stadium?

What's up with this: Is Wayne Parker running against Parker Griffith in 2010? We're hearing rumblings--just not good ones.