State announces 2012 impact fee distribution

The state’s most recent revenues generated from its Act 13 natural gas drilling impact fee legislation dropped by about $1.73 million between 2011 and 2012, but Lycoming County government’s portion increased by $350,000 during that same time.

Those numbers were released Thursday by the state Public Utility Commission, which oversees collections from natural gas drillers and the distribution of that money to county and local municipal governments.

Overall, Lycoming County received a total of $10,613,467 between county government and local municipalities from Act 13. Of that, about $4.37 million is directed toward county government. The rest goes to local municipalities.

“I’m delighted to say we actually are going to receive more than we projected,” said Bill Kelly, county deputy director of the planning and community development department.

Although there may have been less actual gas drilling around the state, “the activity in Lycoming County was proportionately higher than it was in any other county in the state to our knowledge,” Kelly added.

“For the second year in a row, counties and local governments experiencing natural gas drilling are receiving needed financial support through Act 13 dollars,” said state Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township.

He said his district received about 20 percent of the total amount of available impact fees from drillers.

“I cannot remember a time when tens of millions of dollars was sent back to our local governments,” Yaw said.

Lycoming County ranked fourth out of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in the amount of money received from Act 13. The city ranked third out of all municipalities in the state with $539,491 in funding – $33,749 more than the last round – according to the PUC.

Lycoming County also ranked fourth in the state with 661 total gas wells.

Cummings Township had the most amount of wells drilled in the state at 218. The township will earn $1.47 million from fees, but will only keep $500,000 of that by law. The remainder goes to a special statewide housing fund that Lycoming County has the ability to tap with grants.

The same holds true for Cogan House Township, which earned $840,000, but is capped at the $500,000 level.

Statewide, more than $202.4 million was collected in the most recent round of impact fees. Of that, about $28 million is distributed to state agencies affected by drilling. About $71.8 million is placed into the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which was established under the law to fund environmental, highway, water and sewer projects, rehabilitation of greenways and other projects throughout the state, according to the PUC.

Local impact fees can be used to fund such projects as road and bridge improvements, water and sewer system construction and repairs, housing needs and social service programs.

Checks are expected to be distributed to local municipalities later this month.