News: Impact Fee Funds, Right-to-Know Reforms
April 23, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PSATS Director of Communications
Cell: (717) 805-3588 (through April 23, 2015)
Office: (717) 763-0930, ext. 127 (after April 23, 2015)
Pennsylvania’s Townships Call for Preserving Impact Fee Funds,
Enacting Right-to-Know Law Reforms
The natural gas drilling impact fee has generated nearly $650 million for municipalities statewide since 2012, helping to mitigate the impacts of drilling and improve local services. Preserving that funding was a key theme among township officials who gathered in Hershey April 19-22 for the 93rd Annual Educational Conference of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors
PSATS President Tim Horner reviewed proposed changes to the impact fee — namely, Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to freeze the fee allocation at its highest distribution level, which is $225 million a year. The problem with that, Horner said, is that it doesn’t allow the fee to grow as the gas drilling industry grows.
“That’s troubling, and it’s a call to action for all of us whether or not we have wells in our community,” Horner said. “Why? Because funding from the impact fee was meant to help all municipalities statewide, and it has. Our roads are better, our communities are safer, and it’s all thanks to the impact fee.”
That wasn’t the only call to action for the conference attendees, who numbered close to 4,000.
Horner laid out several other issues critical to township operations, including reducing the administrative costs associated with the state’s Right-to-Know Law. Those costs are among the unintended consequences of the law, which have included a steady stream of abuse and frivolous requests. While townships support the public’s right to view and obtain copies of public documents, they are urging legislators to amend the law to allow townships to recover the costs of compliance, such as charging additional fees when filling commercial requests.
Township officials also heard from Gov. Tom Wolf, Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, and other state officials during the three-and-a-half-day event. On the last day of the conference, they posed questions to the acting secretaries of the state departments of Community and Economic Development, Environmental Protection, and Transportation as part of PSATS’ Cabinet Secretaries Forum.
Township officials also established the Association’s legislative agenda, attended their choice of close to 100 workshops, and elected officers, including:
- President — Tim Horner, supervisor of Chapman Township, Clinton County
- First Vice President — Shirl Barnhart, supervisor of Morgan Township, Greene County
- Second Vice President — Bill Hawk, supervisor of Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County
- Secretary-Treasurer — Brian McGrath, supervisor of Millcreek Township, Erie County
- Assistant Secretary-Treasurer — Marvin Meteer, supervisor of Wyalusing Township, Bradford County
Attendees also elected two members to the Association’s Executive Board:
- Anna Swailes, supervisor of Metal Township, Franklin County
- Kathy Rader, supervisor of Upper Macungie Township, Lehigh County
The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors represents Pennsylvania’s 1,454 townships of the second class and is committed to preserving and strengthening township government and securing greater visibility and involvement for townships in the state and federal political arenas. Townships of the second class cover 95 percent of Pennsylvania’s land mass and represent more residents — 5.5 million — than any other type of political subdivision in the commonwealth.