Municipal leaders differ on need for gas industry fee

    Gov. Tom Corbett continues to oppose a tax on Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry. But this week, he moved a little bit closer to what is called an “impact fee,” which would allow local municipalities to recoup some of the costs associated with the drilling boom.

    Drilling for natural gas in Bradford County has grown so fast, local officials no longer know how many people live there. Trucks barrel down country roads, creating potholes known only to urban dwellers.

    But Bradford County Republican Commissioner Doug McLinko said he’s against any sort of tax or impact fee that might discourage the industry. So far, he said, the gas companies have lived up to their promises.

    “And last year we had roads that were really beaten apart. I mean, roads were impassable for an automobile,” he said. “The energy companies immediately got any contractor they could get. They didn’t bid it out, they just said, ‘You go out and get these roads fixed.’ They did it to township specs, they put these roads back in better than any township could ever hope for.”

    But not every township supervisor or county commissioner in the gas-drilling region agrees with McLinko.

    Some say increased drilling activity overtaxes their volunteer first responders. An assessment by the Clinton County Commissioners last year estimates the taxpayer burden will double each year due to drilling. Those communities say they need additional revenue to cope.

    Corbett has said he will listen to proposals.

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