Study: Do PA Towns Spend Impact Fee Revenue on Stated Purpose?

spendOne of the lasting, positive legacies of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, predecessor to the current disaster of a governor, Tom Wolf, is signing into law Act 13, which updated PA’s laws for Marcellus Shale drilling. Among the provisions of Act 13 is something called an impact fee–far better and more fair than a so-called severance tax. As we wrote at the time, the impact fee is really 60% fee and 40% tax. Most of the revenue raised, 60% of it, stays local in the communities impacted (hence the name) by drilling. Those communities have higher expenses for first responders, water and sewer, and other government expenses, due to an increase in drilling activity. But in order to get the deal done in Harrisburg, Corbett and the Republicans had to agree to grease the palms of bureaucrats with 40% of the revenue raised from the fee, to be spread around to various agencies (see PA’s New Tax on Drilling (er Sorry, Impact Fee)). Whatever. At least 60% of the money stays local. The question is, are the local towns and communities receiving their portion of the money using it for what it was intended? A pair of University of Pittsburgh at Bradford professors received a grant to study that very question. The resulting report, “Analysis of Act 13 Spending by Pennsylvania Municipalities and Counties” (full copy of 68-page report below) was published in July. What did it find?…

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