Clearfield County to Consider Impact Fee Ordinance
County Solicitor Kim Kesner said initially, he wanted to craft an ordinance that would be more advantageous for the county, as the “epicenter” of the Marcellus Shale industry. However, he said legislation has it mapped out for them in a sample ordinance, which he found sufficient.
Kesner indicated he didn’t foresee where the county could legally add anything to the sample ordinance, stating it was in the hands of the Public Utility Commission, which will be distributing the impact fee. He recommended the commissioners authorize Chief Clerk Lisa McFadden to move forward with the proper advertising.
The commissioners voted 3-0 to advertise the ordinance’s consideration. A special meeting will be announced for the commissioners to give further consideration to the ordinance, and the county has 60 days to adopt one, according to Commissioner Joan Robinson-McMillen.
Earlier this month, Gov. Tom Corbett signed House Bill 1950, the Marcellus Shale bill, into law. The bill authorizes counties within the “shale regions” to adopt an impact fee. The impact fee will be used by local communities experiencing the actual impacts of unconventional shale gas development.
Recognizing the tight economics associated with low natural gas prices, the fee amount can fluctuate annually and is based on the average price of natural gas for the preceding year. If all eligible counties adopt the fee, estimates for revenue are approximately $180 million in 2012. The revenues are expected to climb to $211 million in 2013 and to $264 million in 2014, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office.
Any state agency with a role in mitigating shale gas impacts, such as the Department of Environmental Protection, the PUC, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, State Fire Commissioner and the Fish and Boat Commission, will receive fixed dollar amounts off the top of the revenues collected from the fee.
Afterward, 60 percent is directly districted to impacted counties. A significant percentage of the remaining 40 percent will also be distributed to those counties through either population- or road-mileage-based formulas or through the awarding of competitive grants, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office.
The law’s provisions that authorized counties to adopt ordinances imposing an impact fee went into effect immediately. The majority of the law takes effect in 60 days from Feb. 14.