Impact fees affect Greene Co. Commissioners budget

November 15, 2012
From left, Greene County Commissioner Archie Trader, Chief Clerk Jeff Marshall and Commissioner Chuck Morris look over the proposed 2013 county budget after a meeting Thursday. - Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

WAYNESBURG – The Greene County board of commissioners approved a general fund budget of $15,773,418 for 2013 at its meeting Thursday. The projected total budget of $25,765,478.38 includes money expected to be received from the Liquid Fuels Fund, 911 Fund, CDBG Grants, domestic relations, tourism fund, children and youth, drug and alcohol, Core HSD Programs/Transportation and mental health/retardation.

The large differences in the amounts allotted for 2013 to county agencies such as children and youth services and mental health and retardation are a result of Marcellus Shale impact fees.

The new budget will be available for viewing by the general public for 20 days during regular business hours in the office of Chief Clerk Jeff Marshall, on the county’s website and in the office of budget director Scott Kelley. Marshall will be advertising the availability of the budget for viewing in local newspapers and on the county website. The date for final action on the budget is Dec. 13.

The proposed budget does not include a tax increase. However, John Frazier, chief assessment officer for the county, said keeping a tax increase out of the equation is dependent on taxes collected, noting there was a slight increase in surface property taxes but coal values were down significantly.

“With the nice warm weather the demand was not there, so coal values did go down,” Frazier said.

The overall drop in taxable mineral values from 2012 to 2013 is $49,986,030. Franklin and Richhill townships saw the largest drop at $17,607,350 and $10,153,060, respectively.

By school district, Central Greene was hardest hit with a mineral value drop of $24,592,900. West Greene wasn’t far behind at a mineral value decrease of $21,171,930.

Marshall credited the impact fees from Marcellus Shale drilling for allowing the county to achieve a proposed balanced budget for 2013.

“When we were doing the preliminary budget with the department heads, and (county budget director) Scott Kelley and I did what we had to do to the budget, we were a little less than $1 million into the red,” Marshall said.

Marshall said they took a look at the 14 items the impact fees were allowed to be used for and did some shifting of money. Money for projects that were to be paid for under the projected general fund that could be paid for with impact fee monies were switched with those that could not.

“It enabled us to balance the budget and leave taxes at the current rate,” Marshall said. “If the Marcellus money wasn’t here, we definitely would have to start to figure out what we would need to do with cutbacks, scale backs, etc. to live within our means.”

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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