The Folly of PA’s Impact Fee/Tax

A number of stories coming from PA for the past several months revolve around how towns and counties will spend a windfall they’ve received from the state since instituting the first-ever shale well impact “fee” last year (for background on the fee-which-is-really-just-a-tax, see: List of PA Impact Fee Disbursements by County/Town). We’ve spared you the boring details. However, we bring you one of those stories to illustrate a point.

Cumberland County, PA has no active shale drilling, yet they will receive $200,000 in “walking around” money from the hard work of energy companies and landowners who are drilling. And what do the wise leaders of Cumberland County intend to do with this new-found pile of cash? Buy a new fire truck or two? Refurbish school classrooms? Refit snowplows with new equipment? Maybe convert some county vehicles to run on natural gas? Nope. They plan to put $149,000 of it into a program to give away (blow) on “green projects.” The squabbling over how to distribute it has already begun…

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