As proposals to increase energy taxes are unveiled in Harrisburg, local officials are touting the game-changing benefits that Pennsylvania’s impact tax has on the Commonwealth’s communities during a state senate committee hearing. To be sure, higher energy taxes could lead to a dramatic drop in shale development activity, stifle job growth, and likely eliminate the hundreds of millions in impact tax revenues that are vital for communities. Furthermore, according to a recent poll, an overwhelmingly clear majority of Pennsylvania voters support job growth over higher energy taxes.
Here’s what they are saying at today’s senate hearing:
- Tioga Co. Commissioners: “Act 13 is a Good Thing. It is Working. It Needs to Stay!”: The single most important benefit was having the ability to invest in our community as a result of the drilling activity. Act 13 made possible upgrades in areas until now that were not financially possible. … Thoughtful consideration of investment of Act 13 Impact fee is happening every day in Tioga County, focused on opportunities to overcome the challenges for the benefit of everyone. All 67 counties benefit from the Impact Fee. Act 13 is a good thing. It is working. It needs to stay! (Testimony, 3/3/15)
- Susquehanna Co. Commissioners Chairman: “The Loss of Act 13 Funding Would Mean Deteriorating Conditions Throughout the County”: The passage of Act 13 Legislation has had a huge impact on Susquehanna County … The positives from the Industry include but not limited to: A new Hospital in Susquehanna County due to the support from the gas companies. Unemployment rates at an all-time low of fewer than 5 percent. Companies have contributed to the local college, and have played a role in the expansion of that College. They have also provided many contributions to several schools throughout the communities, when funding was limited from the State. With the increase in the need for rentals, the industry has forced much needed housing projects throughout the County. 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. … Without the impact fees the County, municipalities, and townships would be in serious trouble. … 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. (Testimony, 3/3/15)
- Greene Co. Commissioners Chairman: Impact Tax “a Blessing to Greene County”: The passage of Act 13 of 2012 (Impact Fee) has greatly eased the financial burden of the County in addressing the issues that have arisen. … Needless to say, the Impact Fee has been a blessing to Greene County. (Testimony, 3/3/15)
- Lycoming Co. Dept. of Planning and Community Development: Thanks to Act 13, We’ve Undertaken “Much-Needed Public-Improvement Initiatives”: Act 13 funds can help advance a number of projects and leverage a great deal of private and public investment. The $4.7M of Lycoming County Act 13 funds–committed to date–will help fund about 35 “external” projects. The total value of these 35 projects exceeds $89.3 M. This type of impact is called leveraging and we’re pleased to note that we are approaching a 19 to 1 ratio – we achieve nearly $18.84 of value for each $1 we invest. Thanks to the funding made available by Act 13, we have been able to undertake many much-needed public-improvement initiatives. … Act 13 revenues have been just as crucial to our affordable housing initiatives. In 2008 we started an environmental assessment of the Brodart building – a vacant, deteriorating industrial site in Williamsport with the vision of repurposing the property to housing. … This is the largest Brownfield project we have ever undertaken. Please understand: none of this would have been possible without the investment of $610K of Lycoming County’s Act 13 Impact fee funds. (Testimony, 3/3/15)
- Butler Co. Assoc. of Twp. Officials President: Impact Taxes a “Shot in the Arm” for County: Cranberry Township used their money for road resurfacing and maintenance. If the impact fees were eliminated they would have to raise taxes to maintain their 132 miles of roads. … Winfield Township used their money to replace a closed bridge. Without the impact money the bridge would have to be closed for a number of years until the township could save enough money to replace the bridge. … Without the Act13 impact fees many of the projects and purchases would not have happened or at least be put on hold until enough funds could be raised. The impact fees have helped our townships hold the line on local taxes, plan for the future, and have expanded services for our residents. … The Act 13 impact fees have been the icing on the cake to help our communities to better serve their residents. They have been a shot in the arm to many of our smaller municipalities. (Testimony, 3/3/15)
- State Assoc. of Twp. Supervisors: “An Enormous Benefit for the Entire Commonwealth”: Since 2012, close to $650 million in natural gas impact fees have been distributed throughout Pennsylvania. This funding has been an enormous benefit for the entire Commonwealth, its municipalities, and their residents but particularly those that who have lived with significant impacts from the industry that changed their communities, particularly in the southwest and north central areas of the state. … Since its enactment in 2012, the natural gas impact fee has been directly benefitting communities all across the state, both inside and outside of the affected areas. … The Association wants to make sure this critical local funding stream is preserved and continues to directly benefit our communities, our residents, and our businesses. … This impact fee is being invested directly in our communities, increasing the quality of life of our residents, easing property tax burdens, and directly benefitting the Commonwealth. (Testimony, 3/3/15)
- Progress Authority Exec. Dir.: “Act 13 Empowers Local Decision Making”: Act 13 has provided funds to both Bradford and Susquehanna counties that have dealt directly with the immediate and future impacts to our local governments and communities. Act 13 empowers local decision-making. It allows county and local governments to maximize its use to serve its greatest needs. … Act 13 has provided our counties, local municipalities and communities with funds to augment specific programs and efforts not reached with existing taxes and permitting fees traditionally levied by governments. … 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, 3/3/15)
- Westmoreland Co. Director of Planning and Development: Eliminating Act 13 Would Place Counties at a “Competitive Disadvantage”: The Impact Fee has impacted economic development efforts in Westmoreland County both directly and indirectly. If the opportunity were to arise to allow local municipalities and counties to receive additional percentage of the Impact Fee directly, that would open additional opportunities to invest those dollars on local priorities. Modifying the formula to further spread the limited funding statewide would only place counties like Westmoreland at a further competitive disadvantage. (Testimony, 3/3/15)
- Beaver Co. Conservation District Exec. Dir.: Losing Impact Tax Funding “Would be Major Blow to Districts”: The Beaver County Conservation District and all of the state’s 66 conservation districts have greatly benefited from ACT 13 and as a result the residents of our great Commonwealth have benefitted, as well. If we lost this funding, it would be a major blow to the districts, the economy, and the environment of Pennsylvania. (Testimony, 3/3/15)
- Butler Co. Commissioners: “A Severance Tax Will Make Pa. Less Attractive”: We have been able to do so much more in our county needing done that is getting done. Gas impact fees have been reinvested back into our county roads and bridges, as well as, parks and environmental programs for the benefit of all county taxpayers. … The recipient counties who receive impact fees are able to not only make impact in their counties, they are able to impact lives in a positive way by resolving problematic issues which all counties face from time to time. This funding from the impact fees impact all taxpayers countywide by dedicating these dollars for purposeful uses as categorically outlined in Act 13 and providing counties with flexibility to achieve their goals. … In regards to a severance tax, we do not want Pennsylvania to be a state with a growing reputation as a place that is difficult to do business in or as a place that is difficult to live in. … A severance tax will make Pennsylvania less attractive for business, jobs, wages, housing and living. (Testimony, 2/23/15)
- Sullivan Co. Commissioner: Impact Tax a “Huge Benefit”: The ‘impact fee’ that our county has received has been a huge benefit to reduce the impact this industry has imposed on the taxpayers of this eighth class county. Each of the municipalities of this county receive monies that they have used to repair roads and bridges that they would not have been able to repair with just the liquid fuels monies that they receive. I would invite each and every one of you who have never visited this part of your state to visit our county. Experience the impact this industry has had on our land. Talk to the residents of our county. Appreciate the changes and challenges that they have faced all for the benefit of this new energy source. Allow them the small comfort of the “impact fee” to remain to offset the sacrifices that they have all made for this state and this nation. This is one “fee” that for the first time, was giving to those who truly deserve it. It did not come back by population or miles of roads, but to those who are so greatly impacted for the benefit of many. (Testimony, 2/24/15)
- Wyoming Co. Commissioners: Impact Tax has “Been a Definite Help”: The impact fee has been a definite help to our county and to our many small municipalities whose budgets just can’t handle the effects especially the wear on their roads. (Testimony, 2/25/15)
- County Commissioners Association of Pa.: Impact Taxes Provide Counties “Tools Unique to their Regions”: Shale-based natural gas exploration and development directly impacts more than half of Pennsylvania’s counties. Over the past decade, the expansion of the natural gas industry has represented vast opportunities for jobs and local and regional economies, decreased reliance on outside energy sources, and provided a fresh outlook for many of our older and declining communities. … Counties continue to need the tools to respond to the industry impacts that are unique to their regions. With the real property tax being counties’ only source of locally raised revenue, the impact fees assure that property owners are not asked to shoulder the additional costs of impacts to county programs and services. … As the natural gas industry continues to evolve in Pennsylvania, local governments remain a key player in natural resource management, public safety, and community and economic development. Clearly, the needs are diverse throughout the commonwealth, and CCAP supports the impact fee established under Act 13 and the financial resources it has offered to communities impacted by shale gas development. (Testimony, 3/3/15)
Read about the 10 (of many) reasons why new energy taxes would squander a tremendous opportunity for the entire Commonwealth. So take action today to stand with working families, local communities and small businesses across Pennsylvania in our efforts to protect jobs and economic opportunity for generations to come.