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County Association Backs Pennsylvania Impact Fee

After expressing initial reservations, a group representing county governments in Pennsylvania is now supporting a county-level impact fee proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett.

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) originally supported the proposal in principle but worried that making counties responsible for levying and administering the fee could create unhealthy competition (see Shale Daily, Oct. 17; Oct. 4).

The CCAP offered its "full support" after meeting with Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley and state Energy Executive Patrick Henderson, reviewing draft legislation of the impact fee and discussing the matter internally, according to CCAP Executive Director Douglas Hill.

"In the balance, our members felt that with those changes and clarifications that it can be workable to do the levy and the administration," Hill told NGI's Shale Daily Wednesday.

Although the CCAP is still reviewing several "technical matters," the group "stressed that the remaining issues do not represent a qualification of the association's support, nor do they constitute a reason for delay in introduction and consideration of the legislation."

Those issues are largely administrative, such as questions about how counties would audit the fee, Hill said, but also include earlier concerns about competition and timelines.

Because the current proposal would require counties to have a program in place by the end of the year to begin collecting in 2012, Hill said the CCAP is concerned that counties might not see any money from the fee until 2013 if the fee isn't enacted early enough this fall. "Once we get past the first year there are no remaining calendar issues," he said.

Additionally, the CCAP would prefer that the fee be a uniform rate that counties could either choose to levy or not, but "that's not a make-or-break issue right now," Hill said.

The proposed impact fee, outlined by Corbett but not yet introduced as legislation, would allow counties to charge operators up to $40,000 per well in the first year of production, $30,000 in the second year, $20,000 in the third year and $10,000 through the 10th year.

The proposal would give 75% of the revenue from the fee to counties and municipalities and the remaining 25% to statewide environmental and emergency response programs.

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