Armstrong County expects $1.5M in Marcellus drilling revenue
By Brigid Beatty
Published: Monday, June 24, 2013, 12:11 a.m.
Revenue garnered from 2012 Marcellus shale gas drilling impact fees is expected to flow into Armstrong County in just a matter of days.
Those funds, totaling about $1.5 million, will help with municipal and county government expenses and are expected to be distributed by July 1 through the state's Public Utility Commission (PUC), which collects impact fees per legislation from drillers across the state in the Marcellus shale industry.
“We recognize that this revenue will fluctuate from year-to-year, but it is certainly a boost for counties in the 41st District and probably even more so for the local municipalities,” said state Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, in a recent news release.
Other 41st District municipalities outside the county will also be receiving impact fee revenue with additional revenue being dispersed to those outside the district in each of the following counties (total includes all municipalities in the counties, not just in the 41st District): Butler: $1,444,574 ($2,937,929 total); Clearfield: $1,246,636 ($2,649,928); Indiana County: ($679,011); Westmoreland: $1,880,460 ($3,839,060).
Carly Cowan, Armstrong County financial advisor and Marcellus Shale coordinator, said the year-to-year fluctuations and the differing amounts of revenue dispersed to municipalities depends on several factors. Those include the amount of Marcellus gas wells operating within a municipality or within a designated radius of a municipality and the amount of gas being produced by those wells.
She said funds received by the county last year were used to balance the budget concerning emergency preparedness, 911 and law enforcement expenses.
County government also receives additional money from the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which is more restrictive about how money is spent, said Cowan. Those funds must go toward beautification and rehabilitation of green ways such as trails and natural areas.
Last year, the county passed $30,000 of that money along to the Kittanning Revitalization Project and gave another $4,000 to the county's Farmland Preservation Program, said Cowan.
Cowan said the county government is expecting $533,923 from the 2012 impact fees and $57,418 from the legacy fund.
No determination has been made by the commissioners yet on how that money will be spent, she said. Those decisions will be made by the commissioners after evaluating upcoming projects and after they have determined the best ways to offset expenses in the budget.
At the local level, municipal supervisors and council members must also determine the best way to spend the revenue.
Kittanning Borough is expected to receive $14,337 by July 1.
According to Borough Secretary Betty Thompson, that money has already been worked into this year's budget and has been allocated for the 2013 police fund.
Manor Township is one of the county's biggest recipients of the 2012 impact fee revenue in Armstrong County and is expected to receive $107,733.
Township Secretary Jill Davis said the money will be put into a capital reserve fund until the supervisors determine how the money is to be spent.
The release noted that statewide, the PUC collected $202 million in impact fee revenue for 2012. Of that amount, $25.5 million will go to state agencies to offset the impact of drilling. The remaining 60 percent of the revenue will be distributed to counties and municipalities where drilling takes place and can be used for local projects including improvements to roadways, public safety, environmental programs, agriculture preservation and career and technical job training.
The remaining 40 percent goes into the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which funds initiatives at the local level throughout Pennsylvania.
More information regarding the Act 13 revenue collections can be found at the PUC interactive website.
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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