The Lycoming County commissioners have laid out the welcome mat for revenue generated by the state's gas drilling impact fee legislation.
The commissioners on Thursday voted unanimously to enact an ordinance implementing the legislation, known as Act 13. Their action clears the way for an estimated $10 million to flow into county and municipal coffers by December.
"With the passage of this ordinance, the county will officially have the mechanism and guidelines in place for implementing Act 13," said William Kelly, deputy director of the county Department of Planning and Community Development.
Commissioner Tony Mussare praised Kelly and other county staff for their work in developing the ordinance, as well as for working to identify gas industry impacts.
"It's been a long haul," Commissioner Jeff C. Wheeland said, adding that the ordinance is "probably the most significant ordinance that the commissioners of Lycoming County - including past boards of commissioners - have (passed)."
Act 13 applies to gas wells drilled into unconventional formations, such as shale, and in which technology such as horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing is used. Wells are assessed the fee when they are "spud," or drilled, according to Kelly.
As of the end of last year, Lycoming County had about 470 spud wells. Wells are assessed an impact fee each year for 15 years. The fee takes into account the previous year's natural gas prices.
In other business, the commissioners agreed to provide funding from the county's 2012 Community Development Block Grant allocation to two projects.
The commissioners agreed to provide $100,000 to Franklin Township for the construction of a sewage treatment plant in Lairdsville. The commissioners last year provided the township with $150,000 in block grant funding for the project, according to William Lowthert, senior program analyst with SEDA-Council of Governments, the agency that administers the county's block grant program. The estimated cost of the project is $1.5 million.
The commissioners also agreed to provide $100,000 to STEP Inc. for the Homes In Need program, which provides low-to-moderate income homeowners with accessibility improvements and repairs.
The county is expected to receive about $250,000 for this year's block grant allocation, he said. The remainder of the money will be used for administrative costs.
Several other projects were submitted for funding but were not considered. Muncy Township requested $2,400 to update its Emergency Operations Plans, but administrative funds, which can be used to pay for such a project, were unavailable, Lowthert said.
Muncy Creek Township requested $27,000 to repair the Stone Arch Bridge along River Road, but a required income survey has not yet been completed, so its fundability has not been determined, Lowthert said.
Block grant funds must be used for projects that benefit at least 51 percent low-to-moderate income residents.
The Woodward Township Volunteer Fire Co. requested $43,000 to buy and install an emergency generator. However, no income survey has been made by the township, Lowthert said.
SEDA-COG plans to conduct a training session with township officials to show them how to perform the survey. If the project is deemed eligible, unused block grant funding from previous years may be allocated to the project, Lowthert said.