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Mon Valley municipalities cash in on drilling impact fees

| Saturday, July 5, 2014, 5:42 p.m.

Officials in many municipalities say the revenue received this month from impact fees assessed natural gas companies drilling in the Marcellus shale reserves will be used on road repairs.

Washington County communities will divide $6.11 million under Act 13, the law Pennsylvania passed in 2012 to cover the costs of the impact of natural gas exploration. Fayette County municipalities will share in $1.46 million in revenue countywide, while Westmoreland County municipalities will share in $1.7 million in revenue under Act 13.

Under the money distributed through state Act 13, Rostraver Township will receive the most among municipalities in the Westmoreland County section of the mid-Mon Valley. Rostraver will receive $52,902 for drilling activity in 2013, down from the $58,180 it received in 2013 for drilling activity in 2012.

Monessen will receive $20,492 for the 2013 disbursements, while tiny North Belle Vernon, which does not have any natural gas wells, will receive $4,606 for the 2013 disbursement. Smithton Borough receives the smallest share of the revenue — only $903, which was up from $858 from the 2012 disbursements.

In Washington County, Union Township will receive the highest allocation at $207,988, followed by Fallowfield Township with $139,363. California Borough will get $100,615; Donora will get $86,781; Monongahela will receive $73,136 and Charleroi will receive $63,572.

Among other area municipalities in the Mon Valley, Bentleyville will get $49,220; West Brownsville will get $23,428; North Charleroi will get $21,252; Speers will get $21,107; Roscoe, $14,539; Allenport, $11,480; Stockdale, $7,876; Twilight, $6,421; and Coal Center, $2,657.

The state announced in early April that the impact fee revenue totaled more than $225 million for 2013, an increase of more than 11 percent in revenue from 2012. To date, the impact fee has generated a total of $630 million in new revenue for the citizens of Pennsylvania since its enactment in February 2012.

The annual fee that natural gas companies must pay is dependent on the price of gas during the year of production and is collected over a period of 15 years. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission administers the collection of the money as of April 1, and the disbursement of the money was to begin on July 1.

After the money is distributed to various state agencies, 60 percent of the revenue is distributed to counties and municipalities with unconventional natural gas well drilling activities. Municipalities with the most unconventional gas wells drilled within their communities get the most money, while some money is distributed to communities within five miles of a municipality where drilling activity occurs.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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