The development of our shale resources has been benefitting Pennsylvanians since the first successful well was drilled into the formation a decade ago. Since the inception in 2012 of impact fees, local municipalities have received millions of dollars – $630 million to be exact. Now in 2015, after years of shale development, some counties have reached a point where they don’t have to raise taxes for their residents, thanks to new revenue streams from the oil and natural gas industry.
One county particularly benefiting is Washington County. It is home to roughly 1,000 wells and, because County Commissioners have been taking advantage of the resources beneath their feet, they won’t be raising taxes next year. A majority of this new revenue stream has come from the county’s decision to lease land beneath Cross Creek Park. Since then, 30 wells have been developed within park boundaries utilizing less than one percent of the park’s total surface area. This has brought in millions of dollars directly into the county. According to a recent Observer Reporter article:
“Nine wells in Cross Creek County Park are projected to bring about $3.1 million in revenue to the county this year, and Commission Chairman Larry Maggi is quick to point out Washington County, at 24.9 mills, has one of the lowest property tax rates in Southwestern Pennsylvania.”
With the successes seen at Cross Creek Park, Washington County Commissioners have again agreed to lease park land, this time beneath Mingo Park. The agreement is expected to yield the county $11.3 million at $6,500 per acre in upfront lease payments and then 18 percent royalties on gas production.
Natural gas impact fees and revenue have also helped Elk County avoid a tax hike for the 2015 fiscal year. As the board members recently stated:
“The availability of Marcellus Shale gas (Act 13) funds has been a source of revenue that has been discretionally used to the taxpayers’ benefit… and thus has aided what otherwise would be budget shortfalls.”
Greene County is also expected not to increase taxes in 2015. Much like Washington and Elk Counties, Green County received $2.5 million this past July from impact fees, which have been used to offset county budgets.
Pennsylvania had a choice ten years ago to pursue shale development or to let the opportunity squander like Governor Cuomo has done in New York. A new report by Economy Watch has shown that the New York’s economy is now struggling from high taxes and its reluctance to allow development in the state.
Shale development has brought a windfall of economic prosperity to communities throughout the Commonwealth and because of that, hardworking Americans and taxpayers are getting a break. With the continued development of our shale resources here in Pennsylvania and across the country, benefits like affordable energy and homegrown jobs will continue to be a reality for decades to come.