Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) recently released projections for the 2017 Act 13 Impact Fee that will be disbursed in April 2018. Based on these projections, the Commonwealth can expect just under $219.4 million — a $46 million-plus increase over the 2016 disbursement ($173,259,000). This will bring the total amount paid in Impact Fees since 2011 to nearly $1.5 billion.
Marcellus Shale Coalition president Dave Spigelmyer issued the following statement about the report and the Impact Fees overall:
“Pennsylvania’s natural gas tax provides critical funding for community and environmental programs across the Commonwealth. This report, along with strong support from local leaders, demonstrates the benefits and effectiveness of this tax, which will total nearly $1.5 billion since 2012. Additional and higher energy taxes jeopardize these local benefits and jobs, along with the significant cost-savings that families are seeing in their natural gas and electricity costs.”
As Spigelmyer mentioned and can be seen from the above chart, the bulk of this “critical funding” goes to the local municipalities and counties with shale development. For instance, the two counties with the most wells drilled in the state — Bradford and Washington — have received about $33.9 million and $26.5 million, respectively, in 2011-2016 disbursements.
Further, those amounts don’t even include Impact Fee money distributed to individual municipalities within those counties. Municipalities in Bradford and Washington counties received an additional $4.4 million and $5.7 million, respectively, in the 2016 disbursement alone.
Every county in the state receives some portion of the Impact Fee, but there is no denying that the majority of this money stays in the communities where – as the name of the tax implies – there has been the most shale development or impact. And that money has helped those counties and communities to make significant improvements.
Pa. Rep. Jonathon Fritz testified at the recent Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Hearing in Waymart on the differences in this distribution between counties in his district with shale development, such as Susquehanna, and those that don’t have shale development, such as Wayne County:
“Wayne County receives approximately $100,000 per year in Act 13 monies – that’s versus $8 million in Susquehanna County. Folks, $8 million in a rural economy, that translates into real tax relief.” (emphasis added)
The DRBC, of course, has prohibited Wayne County from developing its potential shale resources via a de facto fracking moratorium that could soon become a permanent ban.
— EIDMarcellus (@EIDMarcellus) January 23, 2018
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission will issue the official Impact Fee distribution amounts in April, and if these projections are accurate, these monies will once again provide an important source of revenue for the Commonwealth, particularly in Marcellus Shale counties and municipalities.