HARRISBURG – The state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), and the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) today held a joint public hearing to discuss the positive benefits of Act 13 Impact Fee dollars on Pennsylvania communities.
The public hearing featured testimony from counties, townships, conservation districts and economic development organizations throughout the state.
Since 2012, natural gas companies operating in Pennsylvania will have paid over $630 million in impact fees to the Pennsylvania Utility Commission.
“As Governor Tom Wolf today unveiled his 2015-16 General Fund budget, which highlighted implementation of a state severance tax on natural gas extraction, we must be mindful of the opportunities currently being offered to our citizens as the result of Pennsylvania’s Act 13 law. No other law in recent memory has brought so much back to rural Pennsylvania.”
During today’s hearing, Susquehanna County Commissioner Alan Hall addressed important contributions made to Susquehanna County by the industry following enactment of the Act 13 law.
“Municipalities and the County have used funds to improve bridges, sewer systems, roads, parks, and equipment to name a few. 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.”
Hall added, “the loss of the Act 13 funding would mean deteriorating conditions throughout the County with roads, bridges, infrastructure, lost jobs, and large tax increases throughout. Dealing with all the impacts without the funding will cripple our communities.”
Kurt Hausammann, Jr., AICP, Director of the Lycoming County Planning and Development Office discussed the leveraging Act 13 dollars in Lycoming County. “Throughout the first four months of 2013, my department designed a merit based grant application process by which the commissioners could allocate a portion of Lycoming County’s Act 13 funds to address some of the infrastructure issues previously mentioned. Invested wisely, we believe that Act 13 funds can help advance a number of projects and leverage a great deal of private and public investment. The $4.7 million of Lycoming County Act 13 funds –committed to date–will help fund about 35 ‘external’ projects. These are projects that originated external to the County government. The total value of these 35 projects exceeds $89.3 million.”
The committees also heard from Anthony J. Ventello, Executive Director of the Progress Authority located in Bradford County.
“We have experienced tax base expansion with new commercial and residential buildings. Our counties have two new hospitals improving health care delivery and experiencing their 24/7 economic impacts. Taxable income has risen 19%, farming remains the strongest in the core Marcellus counties, along with continued investment in our diversified local manufacturing sector.”
Ventello added that, “our legislators must be commended for the leadership provided with the passage of Act 13, which has been the most useful resource to maintain and improve our communities for all the impacts of shale gas drilling. Act 13 is providing for the foundation to strengthen our rural counties and prepare for additional investment.”
Testimony today also highlighted the beneficial aspects of the Impact Fee to the agricultural communities throughout the Commonwealth. During the past several budget cycles, funding for conservation districts has declined; however, Act 13 funds have helped to fill the gap, according to testifiers.
“Act 13 works,” Senator Yaw said. “All of the testifiers today made it clear that it works. If it isn’t broke, why fix it?”
For a complete list of testifiers, along with testimony and hearing Video/Audio, visit http://environmental.pasenategop.com/030315/.
Adam Pankake (717) 787-3280