Written Testimony to be Presented by Potter County Commissioners Today

The Potter County commissioners will today present testimony to the Senate Majority Policy Committee, as the committee accepts input on a possible ‘impact fee’ for natural gas production.

The commissioners have also been discussing the issue with Senator Joe Scarnati, who has indicated that he would favor an impact fee that is shared with local and county government, in place of the severance tax that was initially approved, but never implemented in 2010.

The text of the written testimony is as follows:

Attn. Senator Edwin Erickson

We have been encouraged by the prospect that county and municipal governments could receive a substantial share of any impact fee that is ultimately imposed on production from Marcellus Shale natural gas wells in the Commonwealth.

Although the industry is in its infancy in Potter County, we are already feeling the impact in terms of added costs for the county and our townships. Based on the trends that have developed in Bradford County, Tioga County and other areas where the industry has been more active, it’s clear that the financial impact will be intensifying here.

Municipal governments are experiencing damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure, as well as increased demands on law enforcement and other personnel.  At the county level, Human Services, Criminal Justice, Emergency Services, Recorder of Deeds, Tax Assessment, Planning and other departments are experiencing the impact.

Our tax base is severely limited due to the large percentage of tax-exempt state forest/game lands in Potter County. Rising taxes on privately owned real estate are crippling our economy.

At the same time, many of the major industries that provide the foundation of our economy – agriculture, tourism, forest production and manufacturing – have been especially stressed by the recession and other factors. Furthermore, the absence of major highways and rail lines in Potter County make it more challenging to attract industry (including those that are servicing the gas industry).

We believe a strong case can be made for an impact fee on production of natural gas from Marcellus Shale. By designating a substantial share of the revenue for county and local governments where the gas production takes place, the legislature would be enabling local leaders to address their own particular needs.

We thank you for your consideration.


Douglas C. Morley, Chairman

Paul W. Heimel, Commissioner (paulheimel@yahoo.com; 814-274-8290, Ext. 203)

Susan S. Kefover, Commissioner

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