Tioga, Bradford counties to receive millions in natural gas impact fees for 2022

Wellsboro, Pa. — Tioga and Bradford counties will be receiving nearly $11.1 million in natural gas impact fees, also known as Act 13, in July.

The money is collected each year from the natural gas drilling industry which is then disbursed by the Public Utility Commission to counties around the state impacted by drilling.

Tioga County will receive just over $4 million, and Bradford County will receive $7.1 million, according to state Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford).

In Tioga County, Commissioner Mark Hamilton said they plan to put the funds into their capital reserve fund until they encumber them to specific projects.

“We typically do not associate the monies with a particular project until we receive them, which should be sometime in July. I can tell you that so far this year, we have spent significant amounts on the Highland Chocolates renovation, the reassessment, the veterans’ affairs building, and we have encumbered $675,000 to help finish the first phase of the Marsh Creek Rail Trail,” Hamilton said.

“There is a certain portion of act 13 as you can see from the PUC website that can only be spent on Greenway or park activities,” he added.

The money collected in 2022 is the most ever, at $278.8 million for eligible Pennsylvania counties and municipalities.

Over the 10 years since Act 13 was signed into law in 2013, Tioga and Bradford have received among the most money in producer payments of the seven counties receiving payments, which also include Susquehanna, Washington, Green, Lycoming, and Butler, Owlett said.

According to PUC figures, these counties have overwhelmingly put the money into their capital reserve funds — $23.3 million in 2021.

Next on the list is emergency preparedness at $6.4 million, followed by judicial services at $4.2 million, and public infrastructure construction at $4 million.

About $2.4 million has been used to reduce taxes on property owners.

The remainder is split between stormwater and sewer systems at $1.6 million, information technology, $1.5 million, environmental programs, $628,525, and social services, $537,606, and a mere $2,056 on housing.

Repeated attempts to reach Bradford County commissioners regarding the $7.1 million allocated to Bradford County were unsuccessful.

Can municipalities count on more?

According to reporting by The Center Square, municipalities and counties could see a dramatic drop in payments following the boom year of 2022.

Related reading: Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom year may go bust

“Impact fee revenues for (calendar year) 2023 are estimated to range from $180 million to $185 million, a reduction of $94 million to $99 million from the prior year, and the largest year-over-year decline since the fee’s inception,” according to analysis from the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO).

The expected revenue drop in 2023 has two driving forces: lower natural gas prices and fewer wells drilled, The Center Square reported.

Author: Cheryl Clarke
Publication: North Central PA.com
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