A sheriff in Eastern Kentucky suspended law enforcement services last week and warned Martin County residents on social media to "lock your doors, load your guns and get a biting, barking dog."
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Sheriff John Kirk said his office is broke and that a promised payment of $75,000 from the fiscal court in January was overdue, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Kirk ordered a temporary suspension of all law enforcement services, laid off the bookkeeper and reduced the sheriff's department office hours from 8 a.m. to noon weekdays until the payment is made, the Herald-Leader reported.
Martin County is not alone. Other local governments throughout the region are dealing with the same financial shortfalls. Sharp decreases in coal severance taxes have led to spending cuts and government staff reductions, according to the newspaper.
Coal tax money to local governments dropped from $34 million in 2012 to $6.7 million in fiscal year 2018.
Martin County residents will now have to depend on Kentucky State Police for emergency assistance, but the department is not that much better off with just one officer patrolling multiple counties, according to news reports.