Lycoming County's natural gas impact fee contribution has recently been increased for the YMCA and Susquehanna Health building projects. The gas impact fee money coming to the Williamsport Water and Sanitary Authority for replacing a water main has been increased from $180,000 to $210,000 due to natural gas impact fees.
A total of $90,000 of the money will defray costs for replacing the water main that is running beneath where the YMCA building is under construction between Walnut and High streets.
The move will tie in service for the Susquehanna Health Innovation Center also under construction on the parking lot of the Williamsport Regional Medical Center, with $60,000 of the impact money used for that.
Additionally, $60,000 will be used to defray tap-on fees that the YMCA would have been charged.
But there is more to it than the numbers. This is another example of how the gas impact fee system is working for the area, the latest in a string of projects benefitting from the money.
Most significantly, it points to the advantage of a gas impact fee system with a great degree of local control over how the money is spent.
There are advocates for a gas industry severance tax instead of an impact fee. The difference is more than a name or a label. If there were a severance tax, the money would go directly to Harrisburg and the chances are slim that as much money would be coming back to the local area.
And we're certain the decision-making that created this YMCA-Susquehanna Health benefit would not have been available.
As years go by, the advantages of a gas impact fee structure versus a severance tax will become more and more evident.