This is a bonanza Cumberland Township didn’t anticipate.
The Greene County municipality will receive $906,875.01 in Act 13 natural gas impact fees this year. That is $406,875.01 more than the $500,000 the supervisors budgeted when they prepared the 2014 budget and adopted it in December.
“We have to guess conservatively,” Supervisor William Groves said Tuesday about budget preparations that took place in November.
The township, to its great benefit, is getting 80 percent more than planned.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission this week announced impact fee distribution amounts for counties and municipalities statewide. The state collected $225.75 million from energy companies on drilled wells in 2013, an increase from $202.4 million the year before and the highest total in the three years the fees have been assessed.
Cumberland is the big winner among municipalities in Washington and Greene counties this year. Amwell Township was on top in Washington, and second in the two-county region, with $609,545.31.
Collectively, the counties and their municipalities will receive $25,695,350.71 in Act 13 money, with Washington and its towns getting $16,212,939.96 and Greene and its municipalities $9,482,410.75.
Washington County government is getting $5,915,857.64 and Greene $3,591,074.94, with the remainder going to their respective towns.
Robin Tilley, spokeswoman for the PUC, said Tuesday all governing bodies should receive their full amounts by July 1.
The impact fees are an offshoot of Act 13, the natural gas drilling law enacted by Pennsylvania in 2012.
Cumberland has benefited all three years, for a total of about $2.7 million. The township received $1,039,586 in the first allocation of funds in 2012, then a smaller but still formidable total of $787,151 last year.
Groves said the supervisors found out about the 2014 allocation Monday. “We’ll be getting more than we anticipated,” he said, adding that the board has not yet decided how the extra money will be used.
In its 2014 budget, the supervisors proposed to place a portion of the $500,000 it expected to receive into the capital reserve fund, as required by Act 13. Other money was budgeted for police, the township’s three fire companies and for equipment purchases.
Chartiers Township, likewise, has realized positive impacts from the impact fees, totaling about $1.9 million over the three years. Its 2014 figure is $608,011.57, second highest in Washington County.
“It’s a higher amount than we received last year, and a pleasant surprise,” said Jodi Noble, township manager. Chartiers, she said Tuesday, got about $578,000 in 2013 and $682,000 in 2012.
Noble said the township had earmarked the impact fee money for infrastructure and capital improvements, with “a good bit of it going to reconstruction of Allison Hollow Road.” She added that the municipality had budgeted about $1 million for the project over the past two years.
The fees, Noble said, have been a boost to the community.
“This way, the entire township can benefit from oil and gas activity here and mitigate some of the impact we’ve felt over the years.”
Marcellus Shale Coalition President Dave Spigelmyer echoed that sentiment Tuesday.
“Responsible shale development continues to be an economic lifeline for communities across the entire commonwealth,” he said in a prepared statement. “These disbursements, which have increased more than 10 percent year over year, are providing critical revenues streams directly to local governments as well as for important environmental-focused programs.
“These tens of millions of dollars in increased tax revenues are proof positive that this law is working.”