Since Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced the impact fee for natural gas drilling companies, it has been a heated issue in Bradford County, the most drilled county in the state. Thursday, Bradford County Commissioners unanimously passed the fee. But as our Lara Greenberg explains, some commissioners still have their reservations about the new tax.
TOWANDA, Pa. -- An additional $6 to $10 million could come to Bradford County this December, thanks to all three county commissioners passing the natural gas impact fee. The impact fee will retroactively tax gas drilling companies on more than a thousand well sites in the county.
Commissioner Mark Smith has supported the bill from the start.
"We can utilize that money for a wide range of things, from judicial services to human services to roads and bridges to economic development," said Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith.
And even though the impact fee passed unanimously, Commissioner Doug McLinko is still against it. He says the only reason he voted for it is because 47 of the 51 municipalities in the county wanted it to pass.
"I don't believe in taxing because you can and that's what this was. The state decided they wanted to pound the flesh out of the natural gas industry and that's what they did and I don't believe in that," said Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko.
He says the gas drilling companies shouldn't have to pay for the prosperity they've brought to the county.
Burlington Township Supervisor Ed Grant also opposes the fee. He doesn't like the bill's 15 year lifespan.
"You could put infrastructure in that you have to maintain that you won't be able to afford," said Grant.
Officials aren't sure how the county will spread out the money.
"If you talk about money, I'm not talking about it because it changes all the time and this is the most screwed up thing you've ever seen," said McLinko.
Supporters are already drafting plans for the best way to use the money.
Neighboring Tioga County already passed the impact fee in March.
The bill was challenged in a Commonwealth Court in Southwest Pennsylvania. It's now on hold down there for 120 days.