Commissioners act on fees

The Elk County Commissioners voted Tuesday morning in favor of "impact fees" that will be assessed on Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale natural gas wells throughout the county."This enables the Public Utility Commission [PUC] to come in and gather the fees that are allowed under this act," said Elk County Commissioner Daniel R. Freeburg. "A portion of it will be returned to the counties and municipalities. "We've had calls from the public asking us to do this-- we've had discussions with industries and they seem to be at least not opposed to it."According to documentation provided by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania [CCAP], the figures are based off the average gas price.With the average price in Pennsylvania being $3.769, the minimum first-year fee per well is $50,000; wells drilled in previous years are included in the fee schedule, which spans 15 years.While the first-year fee totals $50,000, the fee scale declines on a yearly basis; the second year nets $40,000 and $30,000 for the third year.After that, years four through 10 bring in $20,000 and years 11 through 15 garner $10,000.County and municipal governments receiving funds are authorized to use them for a variety of purposes, including:*roadways, bridges, and public infrastructure;*water, storm water, and sewer;*emergency preparedness and public safety;*environmental and recreation programs, including conservation districts, open space, and agricultural preservation;*preservation and reclamation of water supplies;*tax reductions, including homestead exclusion;*availability of safe and affordable housing;*records management, GIS, and information technology;*delivery of social services;*judicial services;*deposits into capital reserves for use on projects permitted under this section;*career and technology centers for training related to the oil and gas industry; and*local or regional planning initiatives under the municipalities planning code.Legislation amended the Oil and Gas title of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for an unconventional gas well fee and its administration, distribution, and allowable uses, regulating permitting for gas wells, regulating environmental matters relative to gas wells, reenacting parts of the Oil and Gas Act, and providing for matters relating to municipal zoning and land use, according to CCAP.County action to adopt the ordinance was required to occur within 60 days of the effective date of the bill, which was signed into law Feb. 13, according to county officials.Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, March 7, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.Next meetingElk County Board of CommissionersWhen: Tuesday, March 20Where: Courthouse Annex, Conference Room No. 2Time: 10 a.m.