Montgomery County will have a $678,000 check in hand soon as a share of the state's more than $204 million accrued from natural gas drilling impact fees.
Gov. Tom Corbett announced this week that the $204.2 million in funds, available through Act 13, would be shared among the state's 67 counties.
The state's 35 counties and 1,485 municipalities which host Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling will share $108.7 million. Legislators earlier this year approved a moratorium on natural gas drilling in Montgomery and Bucks counties.
Regardless if natural gas drilling is permitted or not, all 67 counties will share a $72.5 million fund earmarked for competitive grants for water and sewer, local bridge improvements, local community park and recreation, Growing Greener and other municipal projects.
Montgomery County is projected to receive $678,613.66, while Bucks County will receive $530,461.
According to an Associated Press report, Montgomery County has not yet determined how those funds would be used.
Last month a report released by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission indicated that natural gas impact fees would be more than $20 million higher than the $180 million originally projected. At that time, officials had said that impact fee totals would not be finalized until Dec. 1.
The impact fee is derived from nearly 4,500 natural gas wells which qualified for the fee during 2011, according to the PUC. Companies will have until next September to pay for wells drilled and operational during 2012.
State agencies - including the Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission - are expected to receive a funding boost as well as Act 13 provides $25.5 million in funding.
“We are excited and encouraged by this growth, but we know that every leap forward has an impact. That’s why this impact fee is appropriate," Corbett said in a press release. “We’re ushering in a new industrial revolution, and we’re doing it responsibly with our world-class environmental standards and by providing the communities who are hosting and impacted by natural gas development with the financial resources they need to address those impacts.”
David Sanko, executive director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, which represents more than 1,400 townships of the second class across Pennsylvania, applauded Corbett's early release of the impact fees.
In his Patch blog, Sanko said the funds "help pave the way for the responsible development of this natural resource" in Pennsylvania.
"This ongoing partnership will continue to accrue and benefit all Pennsylvanians as we reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create economic opportunities, including jobs and new businesses, and develop new uses and markets for home-grown natural gas while continuing to protect our environment and the quality of life that makes Pennsylvania a great place to live, work, and raise a family,” Sanko said.