Science & Technology
7:28 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Allegheny County Council Gets First Look at Marcellus Impact Fee Bill

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is following the lead other counties have taken, in proposing legislation that would authorize an impact fee on Marcellus Shale natural gas wells in the county. Such a move, he said, would help take pressure off residents.

"This is another way to get revenues from the Marcellus Shale operations, it's basically an extraction fee, an extraction tax, which I think most people support in trying to alleviate the pressure on property tax," said Fitzgerald.

The new fees are allowed thanks to state Act 13, which allows counties to opt to impose the fees, but they must do so by April 16, or be left out. If a county adopts the impact fee, they must accept drilling in all types of zones except densely-populated residential areas. The legislation gets its first hearing in County Council Tuesday evening.

"I think almost everybody would rather Marcellus Shale fee to help pay for some of the things that are done, road improvements that need to be done because of Marcellus Shale trucks," said Fitzgerald, "having a fee in which the people using the facilities, the roads, the bridges, help pay for those."

Funds available through Act 13 do include improvements to roads, bridges, water, and storm water and sewer projects. The money also could be used for public safety expenses, environmental programs and tax reductions.

Counties including Westmoreland, Butler and Washington have already approved the impact fee.