Impact Fees Help Municipal Budgets

Article excerpt

As area municipal officials plan next year's budgets, they will have the opportunity to factor in more than $600,000 from the $204 million collected in impact fees from Marcellus shale natural gas drilling.

The Public Utilities Commission released updated figures for the fees, tentatively scheduled to be distributed at the beginning of December.

The money is collected from drilling fees levied during the first 15 years of a well's activity. The amount due for each well ranges between $5,000 and $60,000 and depends on when drilling began and the average price of natural gas.

About 22 percent of the $204 million collected is going to municipalities with wells, with another 16 percent allocated for municipalities statewide. The remainder will be divided among state programs and counties with wells.

Derry Township, which has 69 Marcellus shale gas wells, according to the Department of Environmental Protection, will receive the most because of the high number of wells within the township, said Supervisor Vince DeCario.

Repairing roads and bridges are a priority in most of the municipalities, including Derry Township.

"Then we'll go from there," he said, adding that some township bridges could also use improvements.

Supervisors are planning to replace the Greenville School bridge, he said.

Each year the township regularly spends between $300,000 and $400,000 on roads, DeCario said.

Unity Supervisor Michael O'Barto said the township will also put the money into paving.

"The liquid fuels money that our municipality gets is just not enough to do the work that we need to do," he said.

Roads top the list in Latrobe, where City Manager Alex Graziani said the $20,814 allocated there will be put to good use.

"We have plenty of needs related to infrastructure," he said.

Wells are not being drilled within Latrobe's borders, but trucks use city roads to travel to and from Unity and Derry townships, Graziani said.

"Certainly our community is impacted," he said. …