Municipalities decide how to use impact fee money
Municipalities in Bradford and Sullivan counties are facing tough decisions on how to best use a new revenue source.
Across the state, municipalities have received increased revenue in the form of "impact fees" levied on gas companies. These fees were enacted into state law through Act 13, and have been a major source of money for local governments this year.
Some boroughs and townships have decided to save the money that has been granted, while some have budgeted all of the money to be spent this upcoming year and others have yet to make a decision on what will be done with the money.
A small sample of boroughs and townships were used to see what each municipality plans to do with the money received from Act 13.
Smithfield Township has already made public how it plans to use its $456,772 of impact fee revenue. Two concrete box culverts, one on Easy Street and one on Peaceful Road will be placed. Each culvert is valued at approximately $120,000.
The Smithfield Township Volunteer Fire Department will be receiving $5,000, as an alternative to a previously proposed tax hike to township residents. Smithfield EMS will be receiving $2,500.
The township will also use $58,000 for an equipment loan payoff, according to a township official.
Approximately $151,000 will remain, and the money will be deposited into a capital reserve fund to be used for projects approved by Act 13, such as road maintenance.
Leroy Township has received a $168,616 allotment of impact fees from gas companies. The township has opened a new account for the money, but has yet to make any concrete decisions on where the money will be spent.
Township supervisor Ted Tomlinson said on Tuesday, "We are not going to be in a rush to spend the money." Tomlinson noted that two of the three current supervisors share the opinion of saving the money for "impact," a proverbial rainy day fund.
Tomlinson also explained that in the last meeting held, the subject of how impact fees would be spent never came up. There are no special meetings planned for impact fee expenditure, he said.
Rome Township has yet to make any decisions on how its $335,268 from impact fees will be used. According to secretary/treasurer Priscilla Keeney, the money has been put away in a capital reserve fund and has not been introduced into this upcoming year's budget. Keeney noted that there are plans to make decisions in the future, sometime after Jan. 1.
Sayre Borough has yet to make any decisions on how to use its $334,621 of impact fee revenue. According to borough Manager Dave Jarrett, there is a meeting scheduled for Dec. 18 where council members will present their ideas. Dushore Borough in Sullivan County is receiving $14,476 in impact fee revenue for this year. According to borough secretary/treasurer Ellen Chase, no decisions have been made with how the money will be spent and there is no timetable set to talk about the money.
Towanda Township has already announced where the majority of its $205,928 in impact fee revenue will be used. Most, if not all, of the money received will be used for road maintenance, such as tar-and-chipping of roads, township secretary/treasurer Lori Kepner said.
Kepner also noted it's possible some of the impact fee revenue could be used for a planned sewer line extension for a section of Liberty Corner Roads, which is located between the Towanda Creek bridge and Woodside Road.
Towanda Borough has approximately $173,000 in impact fee revenue that it received this year.
According to Towanda Borough Manager Tom Fairchild Jr., the borough has three purposes in which the additional revenue will be put to use.
A total of $40,000 in impact fee revenue will be spent on an emergency generator for the Towanda Municipal Building. Approximately $35,000 is planned to be spent on repairing the sidewalks of the borough's downtown. The remaining $100,000 will be spent on beginning to address the unfunded liability in the borough's police pension fund, Fairchild said.
Ulster Township received $219,828 this year in impact fees alone. At an Oct. 22 workshop meeting, Ulster Township agreed to use some of the revenue generated from impact fees for boosting the equipment budget in 2013. This will reportedly allow them to replace aging equipment, such as the purchase of a new oil buggy to maintain recent tar and chip treatments on township roads.
Athens Township showed $474,124 gained in impact fees in its proposed 2013 budget. According to the budget, $240,000 of the impact fee money will go to highways, roads and streets. $135,000 will be put toward public safety expenses, and the remaining $99,000 will help to cover general expenses.
Wysox Township has received over $327,000 in impact fee revenue for this year. According to township supervisors, it is possible some of the money will be used toward an approved sewer line extension for Hillside Drive, which currently has no sewer service. The sewer line extension is expected to cost $80,000.
Wyalusing Borough has received $38,191 from gas company impact fees. Council president George Anderson expects most of the money to be used for the upkeep of roads and sidewalks.
"We will use the money to maintain our streets. $38,000 is not enough for a bigger project," Anderson said.
The impact fee money alone will not be enough to complete all road work Wyalusing Borough has planned. The money will be used "to supplement the street fund" Wyalusing already has established, Anderson explained.
Work on the roads will begin when the weather breaks, according to Anderson, sometime in the spring. Anderson believes the majority of work will be focused on the "hill section" of Wyalusing, which has many roads.
North Towanda Township received $121,691 in impact fee revenue and has yet to make any decisions on how the money will be used, Supervisor Charmaine Stempel said.
Act 13 took effect in Pennsylvania on April 14, 2012. The law offers no deadline by which municipalities or counties have to spend the money earned from impact fees.