The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has released the 2018 distribution list for impact fees resulting from natural gas drilling, and McKean County will be seeing more than $460,000.
The statewide total is the highest ever, at $252 million, said state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Brockway.
“This year’s $252 million distribution is the largest-ever annual distribution of Marcellus Shale Impact Fee funds collected,” he said of the fee implemented on unconventional gas wells drilling in Pennsylvania.
Over the past eight years the PUC has collected and distributed almost $1.7 billion to communities across Pennsylvania. County and municipal governments directly affected by drilling will receive a total of $134,740,050 for the 2018 reporting year. Additionally, $89,826,700 will be transferred to the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which provides financial support for environmental, highway, water and sewer projects, rehabilitation of greenways and other projects throughout the state. Also, $18,397,250 will be distributed to state agencies, as specified by Act 13.
The PUC has forwarded the information to the Department of Treasury for payment and expects checks to be distributed in early July.
“I am extremely pleased that a significant amount of the impact fee revenues will be invested in our local communities and will help to strengthen rural areas,” Scarnati said. “The impact fee has done exactly what it was created to do — place a fee on the industry and direct the money back to our communities that are affected by drilling, as well as to help support statewide environmental initiatives and monitoring of the industry.”
State Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint, said the program is working just as it was planned.
“The majority of the money comes back to areas where the majority of the drilling is taking place,” he said. “McKean County has used a significant amount for public safety. I think it’s been a beneficial source of revenue for our municipalities.”
McKean County Commissioner Cliff Lane explained the county receives an allotment, and several municipalities do as well.
“What we do is put in the budget that we’re going to get roughly $400,000,” Lane explained. “Then we decide where we’re going to put it. Last year it was information technology for $275,000, and social services almost $122,000.”
While there are mechanisms in place for municipalities to apply to the county for a portion of those funds, Lane said that is only if drilling really takes off. “For example, in Bradford County, they get $6 million. If our impact fee went to a large amount,” there are provisions set up through which municipalities could apply for some of the funds.
With the fee right around $400,000, it is being used to cover expenses with IT and social services, Lane said. “If we didn’t have that revenue, we would have to raise taxes.”
While many municipal leaders are unhappy that the county doesn’t distribute the money it gets, Lane explained the commissioners’ reasoning: “We felt avoiding a tax increase would benefit all property owners.”
According to the PUC, from the 2018 impact fees, McKean County will receive $460,073.26, down from $487,368.05 the previous year.
Annin Township will receive $13,048.06, down from $14,131.25 the prior year. Bradford City will receive $46,037.70, down from $49,686.97 in 2017.
Bradford Township will receive $42,126.83, down from $44,751.81. Ceres Township will receive $12,885.24, down from $13,925.51. Corydon Township will receive $3,819.80, down from $4,186.83 last year.
Eldred Borough will receive $2,146.42, down from $42,335.41 last year. Eldred Township will receive $7,599.20, down from $8,298.39 the prior year. Foster Township will receive $29,497.77, down from $31,890.64 the prior year.
Hamilton Township will receive $5,924.02, down from $6,410.73. Hamlin Township will receive $16,364.34, down from $16,699.46 in 2017. The Borough of Kane will receive $21,122.34, down from $22,740.
In Keating Township, the government will receive $29,186.10, down from $31,716.29. Lafayette Township will receive $15,581.85, down from $18,258.07. The Borough of Lewis Run will receive $3,614.13, down from the 2017 number of $3,900.56. Liberty Township will receive $23,992.14, down from $25,996.54.
And Mount Jewett Borough will receive $5,991.67, down from $6,509.90.