Will A Gas Impact Fee Help Bradford County Neighbors?

By Jenna Hanchard

March 19, 2012 Updated Mar 19, 2012 at 11:44 PM EDT

Hundreds of millions of dollars are up for grabs for county governments across Pennsylvania if leaders decide to impose a tax on gas drilling companies.

Monday, Bradford County commissioners explained to taxpayers
how a gas impact fee would impact the Northern Tier.

A gas impact fee would allow Pennsylvania to collect new revenue from gas drilling companies that are producing at least 90,000 cubic feet of gas per day.

In February, Pennsylvania legislators passed a bill which places a gas impact fee on well drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

While the fee is collected at the state level, counties must decide if they will enact it.

If they do not, they will not get funds from the state imposed fee.

Based on producing wells in 2011, Bradford County commissioners estimate that Bradford County alone could see a total of $18 million.

Three Bradford County commissioners must decide if they want to adopt the impact fee.

While one commissioner is on the fence, the remaining leaders have each taken a stance on the issue.

Commissioner Mark Smith said, "We're seeing cuts from the State of Pennsylvania all the time. This year, the governor proposed a cut to social services so there is a good number of things that we can utilize the funding for."

Commissioner Daryl Miller said, "My hesitation with this is we're retroactively imposing a fee on companies that dates back to the first well drilled. Imagine a company that comes to town that starts manufacturing a product a restaurant or whatever and all of a sudden, the state decides to impose a tax or a fee and they say, 'Oh, by the way, you owe for the previous five years.' To me that's just fundamentally unfair."

Miller is concerned that the imposed fee could damage the relationship between the gas drilling companies and the county.

Counties can spend the money generated from the gas impact fee to
repair roads and bridges, reduce taxes, increase safe and affordable housing for residents.

Bradford leaders must make a decision by mid April.

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