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Revenue from shale fees dips in Murrysville, neighboring communities

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Municipalities across the state – including Murrysville, Delmont and Export — received less money from the fees paid for Marcellus shale drilling this year.

Compared to last year, most communities saw about a 10 percent dip in the amount of money doled out under Act 13, the state legislation enacted in 2012 that collects an impact fee from unconventional well drillers across the state. The money is divvied up between state agencies, counties and municipalities based on the number of wells in a community or its proximity to drilling.

Statewide, the fees collected from the drilling industry for 2012 totaled about $202.4 million, a decrease of about $1.8 million from the previous year.

Of that total, local governments will get about $102.7 million, or about $2.6 million less than the first year of payments.

PUC press secretary Jennifer Kocher said several factors — including the number of wells that are in operation — go into the formula that determines how much each municipality receives.

Part of the reason for the decline in impact fees is the drop in the cost of natural gas, she said.

“It's gone down slightly overall, so it's just rippled through,” Kocher said of the decline in impact fees for local communities.

Locally, Export saw the largest dip in impact fee revenue, dropping from $2,565 last year to $1,138 this year. Though less than half of last year's payment, it won't affect the borough much, Mayor Michael Calder said.

“It was found money in the first place,” Calder said. “There's an uncertainty with that money. I'm sure there will be some impact, but the amount Export borough received was not significant.”

Murrysville receives the largest chunk of money locally, though the $53,133 the municipality received in 2013 is about $5,000 less than last year's cut. Chief Administrator Jim Morrison said the money will be placed in the municipal reserve fund, just as last year's was.

In Delmont, officials aren't concerned about the approximately $700 drop in revenue to $6,161. Council President Jim Bortz said there won't be any negative effect on the borough's budget.

“We'd like to have it, but it's not going to break us,” Bortz said.

The impact fees can only be earmarked for specific projects, including sewer and road work.

Staff writer Chris Foreman contributed to this report.

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