Butler County to get higher impact fees from gas activities

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The windfall from Pennsylvania’s impact fee on gas fracking activities in Butler County will be a third higher this year, and there’s no shortage of what to do with the extra money.

“We’ve got a lot of ideas on how to spend it,” said Butler County Commissioners Chairman Bill McCarrier.

The county learned recently that it will receive $1,748,751 for this fiscal year, beginning July 1. That’s up from $1,156,721 for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The county has a lot of latitude in deciding how to spend the money. The state outlines 13 broad categories for spending, from storm water and sewerage systems to public safety and parks to tax reduction and information technology to social services and regional planning.

Last year’s money was spread among several projects: $240,000 for operating the county’s emergency dispatch center; $100,000 for a pending renovation of the Alameda swimming pool (a project that will cost about $1 million and start after this swim season); $250,000 for operating the Sunnyview nursing home, which recently was sold; $50,000 to establish a drug court; and $100,000 for repairs to county-owned bridges (the balance is part of the county’s operating budget for this year).

The anticipated revenue for this fiscal year will be part of next year’s operating budget that takes effect Jan. 1. Mr. McCarrier said he anticipates that at least $100,000 will go toward the Alameda pool project to beef up in-hand monies that include a state grant and timber sales from the park.

“We didn’t know how much we’d get because it’s tied to activity in the Marcellus Shale industry. We’re really pleased that it’s going up,” he said.

The revenue stream has allowed the county to forgo increases in property tax rates, Mr. McCarrier said, adding, “This has kept us from raising taxes to do the kinds of things we need to do.”

Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or 724-772-9180.

Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or at 724-772-9180.

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