This week, communities throughout the Commonwealth received natural gas impact fee – Pennsylvania’s natural gas tax – funded grants for key environmental and infrastructure projects. Through the Commonwealth Financing Authority, 115 projects, totaling more than $15.7 million were awarded to counties throughout the state. These funds are in addition to the impact fee dollars that directly benefit each county annually.
Since inception, the impact fee funded program has issued more than 600 grants totaling more than $103 million for projects ranging from stream restorations, trail extensions and new parks. This year’s project announcement come on the heels of the impact fee revenues surpassing $1.2 billion since 2011.
MSC’s Dave Spigelmyer joined KDKA-AM yesterday to talk about how the natural gas impact fee continues to be a winner for communities. Here’s an excerpt from Dave’s interview:
“Part of that impact tax is Commonwealth Finance Authority projects that are funded throughout the state. Here in Allegheny County, we’ve enjoyed close to 40 different projects over the last five years to the tune of about $9.5 million. … It’s been a huge winner. There have been counties that have been able to keep property taxes down, primarily because of the dollars collected from shale operations throughout the region.” (KDKA)
All corners of the Commonwealth received CFA grants this week, with notable projects including:
(Source: PA DCED, 11/14/17)
Here’s what they’re saying about the local benefits of natural gas development.
- Impact Fee Funded Project to Help Community “Create a Safe Route” to Area School: [It was] announced Tuesday that $340,000 of $59 million that was designated for transportation projects will be go toward the Kishacoquillas Street Improvement project. Funding for the project will come from the impact fee on unconventional gas wells in the Marcellus Shale. One hundred and fourteen other projects statewide will receive funds through this program. The project will address traffic congestion, create a safe route to the school, address key trails and walking route connections and direct Lewistown Intermediate School improvements. … It would also address traffic congestion issues along the Kish Street corridor and the Mifflin County School District properties and would also provide a neighborhood scale pedestrian and bicycle access way to the Lewistown Recreation Park. … The Marcellus Legacy Fund was created by Act 13 of 2012 to provide for the distribution of unconventional gas well impact fees to counties, municipalities, and commonwealth agencies. The act stipulates that a portion of the fee revenue will be transferred to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for statewide initiatives that will include abandoned mine drainage abatement, abandoned well plugging, sewage treatment, greenways, trails and recreation, baseline water quality data, watershed restoration, and flood control. (Lewiston Sentinel, 11/14/17)
- Region Sees Over $500K in Impact Fee Funded Project Grants: Area lawmakers Tuesday announced the awards through the Multimodal Transportation Fund and the Act 13 or natural gas impact fee programs. The Act 13 funded projects: $299,999 to replace a section of the retaining wall along Solomon Creek in Wilkes-Barre. $75,000 for improvements to Weissman Park in Wilkes-Barre. $25,000 for Phase II improvements at Baltimore Avenue Park in West Pittston. $155,355 for improvements at Romanoskey Park in Larksville. $165,000 for improvements at Hazle Township Community Park in Hazle Township. (Times-Leader, 11/14/17)
- 10 County Projects Receive More Than $1.53M in State Funding: A bicycle lane study for downtown Scranton and Wilkes-Barre and two Lackawanna River Heritage Trail expansions are among 10 Lackawanna County projects collectively awarded more than $1.53 million in state funding Tuesday. … Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority got two grants to improve the Heritage trail throughout the county, including $100,000 to develop nearly a mile of trail that would connect Parker Street in Scranton to Boulevard Avenue, running behind Lackawanna County Recycling Center to the Throop line. The Scranton Marvine Connector project would allow pedestrians and bicyclists to walk or ride between Scranton and the Midvalley and move closer to connecting the city trail to the upcoming Dickson City stretch, said Owen Worozbyt, LHVA’s trail and environmental projects manager. … The organization also garnered a $70,000 grant to connect the Scranton Riverwalk section of trail to downtown Scranton at Lackawanna Avenue to give walkers a safe alternative to a narrow sidewalk on an underpass below the Seventh Avenue railroad bridge. Taylor was awarded a $95,245 grant to support the construction of a splash park. (Scranton Times-Tribune, 11/15/17)
- Parks, Playgrounds to be Upgraded in Johnstown Area: A number of municipalities and organizations in Cambria and Somerset counties were awarded a total of nearly $2 million in state funding for projects designed to improve transportation infrastructure and promote economic development. … The following Johnstown-area projects received funding through the CFA’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation program: The city of Johnstown received $225,000 for improvements to Roxbury Park, including installing a new stormwater drainage system, replacing rusted fencing, installing energy-efficient lighting and repairing the maintenance facility’s roof. Johnstown Concert Ballet received $6,000 to help construct a small park next to its Broad Street building. Community Foundation for the Alleghenies received $87,499 to help purchase and install playground equipment at Westmont Hilltop Elementary School. Coaches 4 Kids Foundation received $34,000 to help rehabilitate Dale Borough Park in Conemaugh Township, including the clearing of 34.8 acres and construction of a football field, parking area and playground. (Tribune-Democrat, 11/15/17)
- Bucks Nabs $675K in Environmental Grants from State Gas Drilling Fund: Five Bucks County towns nabbed a combined $675,000 in state environmental program grants this month …. The programs are funded through impact fees assessed on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling wells, in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Act 13. …The biggest recipient in Bucks was Bristol Township, which received $240,000 for the development of a new Cedar Avenue Park, as detailed last week in a report by this news organization. Four other towns received grants: Solebury received $145,000 for environmental restoration at Aquetong Springs Park. Morrisville received $140,000 for a flood protection study. Quakertown received $100,000 for its “Action Park.” Perkasie received $50,000 for a Liberty Bell Trail study. Ryan Sevenski, Quakertown’s parks and recreation coordinator, said the funds will help pay for a planned major renovation of the town’s existing skate park on Main Street. The site will trade in wooden ramps for permanent, concrete ones, get a new building, and also get amenities such as benches and a walking trail. “It’ll be one of the largest skateparks in the Northeast, honestly,” Sevenski said. Bob Sooby, Morrisville borough manager, said the $140,000 will go toward a larger effort to alleviate flood insurance burdens and development restrictions near the borough’s Williamson Park. Perkasie’s $50,000 will support ongoing efforts to develop its portion of the Liberty Bell Trail. That trail, as proposed, would run from East Norriton in Montgomery County to Quakertown, along the former path of a passenger train. Solebury’s $145,000 fits into a larger project at Aquetong Springs Park to remove a dam and restore the park’s landscape into a natural setting. Several eastern Montgomery County towns also received funding: Upper Dublin received $215,000 for stream restoration. Abington received $100,000 to improve water quality at the Ardsley Wildlife Sanctuary. Cheltenham received $100,000 for a stormwater pump replacement. Lansdale received $100,000 for a stormwater system retrofit project on Whites Road. (The Intelligencer, 11/24/17)
- Natural Gas Impact Fee Funds Westmoreland, Allegheny Projects: The latest round of grants from the state’s natural gas impact fee will help fund projects in Western Pennsylvania involving flood mitigation, abandoned mine treatment, park development and watershed protection. In Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, the Commonwealth Financing Authority recently approved projects totaling $2.9 million – $2.3 million for Allegheny County and $600,000 for Westmoreland County. The impact fee is the annual fee that the state applies to each new unconventional well drilled into the Marcellus Shale. Some of the money is distributed directly to counties to offset the costs of increased drilling activity. Some of the money is made available to individual communities in the form of grants. Act 13 of 2012 stipulates that a portion of the fee revenue be transferred to the CFA for initiatives such as abandoned mine drainage abatement, abandoned well plugging, sewage treatment, greenways, trails and recreation, baseline water quality data, watershed restoration and flood control. “These important community projects reflect the broad benefits of Pennsylvania’s natural gas impact tax, which alone has generated more than $1.2 billion,” said David Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. “Local leaders have made it clear that this essential revenue source is working effectively (and) delivering much needed funding.” (Tribune-Review, 11/20/17)