Marcellus shale impact fees in Norwin area different than originally expected
A corrected calculation means North Huntingdon will get $4,435 less in Marcellus shale impact fees but results in more money for Irwin and North Irwin.
Initially, the Public Utilities Commission reported North Huntingdon would receive $83,440 in impact fees next year, but the most recent figures from the PUC show the township is scheduled to receive $79,005.
The PUC's web site shows Irwin is scheduled to receive $9,880, and North Irwin is schedule to receive $2,118 in impact fees, which is an increase of $5,015 and $1,075, respectively.
Irwin manager Mary Benko said the borough is pleased with the increase in impact fees.
“It's great news for the borough, and we'll make sure the money is spent wisely,” Benko said. “It will have a positive impact in our budget.”
North Irwin council president Kim Macalus echoed Benko's sentiments.
“It's awesome news, and we should be able to fulfill all the needs in our budget,” Macalus said.
According to Act 13, the state legislation regulating drilling and gas wells, the impact-fee money can be used only for water, wastewater and road infrastructure maintenance and improvements; emergency preparedness; environmental programs; tax reductions; increased safe and affordable housing; employee training; or planning initiatives.
State officials have not contacted North Huntingdon officials with a revised schedule of impact fees, township manager John Shepherd said.
“We don't believe it will have a significant impact on the 2013 budget, but we need to wait until we receive more information from the state,” he said.
The township has no Marcellus shale gas wells, although a company began preparing and excavating a site on a small farm, off of Clay Pike, near Farview Drive, within the last couple of years. The company, which Turley did not identify, never finished excavation nor conducted any drilling.
There currently are 159 Marcellus shale wells in Westmoreland County, according to the PUC.
The closest Marcellus shale wells are in Sewickley Township and Hempfield Township, which have 13 and six wells, respectively.
The miscalculation will affect less than half of 1 percent of the $204.4 million disbursement statewide, according to the PUC.
The corrected calculation isn't the only issue township officials have with Act 13.
When state officials passed Act 13, the PUC mandated communities with drilling ordinances conform to the act's requirements. Those who didn't modify their ordinances wouldn't be eligible to receive impact fees, according to the Act.
Last month, the state Commonwealth Court ruled the PUC could not withhold a municipality's share of the impact fees for failure to conform with Act 13.
“This ruling is a major conflict with Act 13 since it said we wouldn't get impact fees without conforming,” Turley said. “It was the hammer they held over our head, but the ruling means we'll get impact fees, regardless.”
North Huntingdon commissioners enacted the township's natural gas and drilling ordinance in June 2011.
The township gave up its plans to modify its gas and drilling ordinance after the state Commonwealth Court declared portions of Act 13 unconstitutional in July.
The act dictated what municipal officials could and could not regulate with natural gas and well drilling.
Officials of several communities challenged the act in court and said it stripped municipalities' rights to control drilling through zoning regulations. Commonwealth Court sided with the municipalities.
The state Supreme Court currently is considering Act 13.
Turley described Act 13 as “a work in progress.”
“We have our current ordinance in place, and a revised version of it to address the requirements of Act 13,” Turley said.
“We're ready to go if we have to be in full compliance, but I wouldn't be surprised if the state took up Act 13 again and worked toward setting standards across the state on a local level.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Cole outduels Mets rookie, carries Pirates to victory
- Look for 1st rate hike this year, Yellen says
- Hempfield pair caught in vehicle scam
- Pirates notebook: Stewart, Cole develop rapport
- Murray, Alpha notify West Virginia coal miners of layoffs
- PIAA track and field notebook: Burrell’s Scherer, Valley’s Walters set to race again
- Allegheny County cutting ties with Corizon Health after deaths of 2 inmates at county jail
- Online donors help Hempfield teen whose wallet was stolen
- Knoch’s Geist captures PIAA discus title
- WPIAL players take control of early rounds at PIAA tennis tournament
- Pirates’ McCutchen laughs off pay stub leak