While Act 13 money fees from shale gas development haven’t been a windfall for Warren County, decisions still must be made regarding how the money received will be spent.
According to documentation from the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission, Warren County has been allotted $17,651.21 for the wells currently in the county plus $35,475.88 from the Marcellus Legacy Fund. In total, the county was awarded $53,127.09.
In addition to funding that went to the county, municipalities throughout the county also received allotments.
“We can only use it on a PennDOT approved TIP” project, County Planner Dan Glotz said on Tuesday. The TIP is the county’s transportation improvement plan.
“We can only use it on state or local bridges or local roads,” he added. “Right now (projects on the TIP) would be the only projects that would be eligible. We have the ability to amend the TIP” if additional finding is available.
Warren County Commissioner Chairman Stephen Vanco, who serves with Glotz and Transit Authority of Warren County Director John Aldrich on the five-county Rural Planning Organization by which the TIP is designed, said on Thursday that “personally, I would like to see it used in municipalities. It’s not a great amount when you get into projects like bridges, but if we could help municipalities on the engineering” it would still be a benefit.
Glotz said he will be meeting with planning directors from across the state and is hopeful to gain some insight into how to distribute the funding equitably.
Vanco explained that he is interested in exploring whether the funding could be used as a match to leverage additional funding. While unsure if that possibility exists, he said, “We could bring more money back into the area if we can use it as a match. I would like to see as much good come out of it in the local areas as we can.”
Each county was guaranteed to receive a minimum of $40,000 during the first round of funding. According to fracktrack.org, Warren County currently has 11 Marcellus Shale wells. Eight of the wells are located in Mead Township; Pittsfield, Limestone and Eldred townships each have one.
If drilling continues to rise, money received could as well.
“As activity increases, as it probably will over time, we should see additional funding come in,” Glotz said. He explained that the funding currently received can only be used for local transportation but different programs, and different uses, will be available in later rounds of funding.