Share This Page

Townships seek their slice of shale pie from Fayette

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 11:49 p.m.

Representatives from Fayette County's 24 townships crowded into the commissioners' meeting room on Wednesday, making a pitch for a portion of the county's anticipated $1.4 million from Marcellus shale gas well drilling.

Commissioners imposed those fees under the state's Marcellus Shale Act 13 in April.

Menallen Supervisor Joe Petrucci spoke on behalf of the county's township supervisors association.

“What we need to see happen, I think, here is a permanent county ordinance that (redistributes) Act 13 impact fees at the rate of 60 percent, equally divided among all 24 townships,” Petrucci said.

That figure would result in about $29,000 per township, supervisors estimated.

Petrucci said the money will be needed to repair anticipated damage to township roads used by drilling companies' equipment. Petrucci said $29,000 may not seem like much, but Menallen was able to lay 4,600 feet of water line this year for $30,000.

The drilling could go on for decades, Petrucci said, while townships struggle to maintain roads that heavy-weight trucks “pulverize.”

He said Act 13 funding is “more of a pleasant windfall” for the county, “when compared to the townships' needs for the funds.”

“Our biggest problem is keeping people safe. These wells are destroying our roads and making them unsafe,” Petrucci said.

“In your opinion, the amount of impact fees allocated to the county and municipalities falls way short of what is needed to maintain problems your road system will incur over the next 30 to 40 years?” Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky asked.

“Yes,” Petrucci said.

Commissioner Al Ambrosini noted the county needs to repair numerous bridges. “If we do not repair bridges, that hurts people who live in your townships,” he said. “Every dollar we are going to spend is going to have to be prioritized,” he said.

The board Wednesday ratified creation of a separate bank account for Marcellus Shale proceeds. It also approved a tentative 2013 general fund budget, which leaves property taxes at 4.51448 mills. Revenue was listed at $27.8 million and expenditures at $25.6 million.

Commissioners met with county department heads regarding their “wish lists,” an annual process.

Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink voted against the budget. She said the three commissioners had not held public meetings to discuss the preliminary budget.

The board expects to meet next week to review the budget for possible revisions.

The spending plan must be available for public inspection for 20 days before adoption, required by Dec. 31.

“Until you look at the entire (proposed) budget, you don't know how much meat you have got to cut out,” Ambrosini said.

The board, however, agreed to solicit requests for proposals to implement an adult day reporting center program for criminal defendants sentenced by county judges. Defendants would report to the center, rather than serve time in the county prison, for minor crimes.

Zimmerlink questioned the “manner and timing” of how some issues are brought to commissioners by staff and solicitors.

She said she was unaware of a letter authorizing the county's participation in an auction until just prior to the scheduled property sale.

The building ultimately went to another bidder, commissioners said.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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.