Organizations testify on importance of natural gas impact fee in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Senators Gene Yaw and Scott Hutchinson held a joint meeting on Tuesday of the Senate  Environmental Resources and Energy and Local Government committees to discuss the importance of the impact fee in the state.
Pennsylvania Senators Gene Yaw and Scott Hutchinson held a joint meeting on Tuesday of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy and Local Government committees to discuss the importance of the impact fee in the state. | Pennsylvania Senate
Testimony was heard from various local government entities and organizations on Tuesday on the importance of the impact fee in Pennsylvania during a joint meeting of the state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy and Senate Local Government committees.

State Sens. Gene Yaw, chairman of the energy committee, and Scott Hutchinson, chairman of the local government committee, held the public hearing to get feedback from townships, conservations districts, economic development organizations and counties around the state.

Gov. Tom Wolf's budget would implement a state severance tax on natural gas extraction, which would require the impact fee paid by natural gas companies to be discontinued. The companies have paid more than $630 million in impact fees to the Pennsylvania Utility Commission since 2012, when it was implemented into law as Act 13.

“Act 13 works,” Yaw said. “All of the testifiers today made it clear that it works. If it isn’t broke, why fix it?”

Susquehanna County Commissioner Alan Hall said there hasn't been another law in the state that has helped the rural portion of Pennsylvania as much as the impact fee.

“Municipalities and the County have used funds to improve bridges, sewer systems, roads, parks and equipment to name a few,” Hall said. “It has also allowed the entities the ability to free up other revenue streams to improve facilities, reduce debt and prepare our communities for the future.”

Anthony Ventello, executive director of the Progress Authority in Bradford County, said the impact fee has helped expand the tax base with new commercial and residential buildings.

“Our counties have two new hospitals improving health care delivery and experiencing their 24/7 economic impacts,” Ventello said. “Taxable income has risen 19 percent, farming remains the strongest in the core Marcellus counties, along with continued investment in our diversified local manufacturing sector.”