Bradford County has more natural gas drilling sites than any other county in the state right now.
It is up to county commissioners to decide whether or not to impose the impact fee on gas drillers.
Bradford County’s two Republican commissioners were planning to vote no until nearly all the townships and boroughs indicated they wanted the money.
That means they could override the commissioners, so instead of a battle everyone decided to work together.
There was not any fanfare or smiles even when Bradford County commissioners voted unanimously to impose an impact fee on natural gas drillers.
Bradford County stands to get millions of dollars for the hundreds of producing gas wells that have dotted the landscape since 2005.
“We don’t know how much we’re going to get, how long it’s going to last, how much each of the out years is going to be,” said Commissioner Daryl Miller.
Republican Commissioner Miller does know, however, the money should help take the load off taxpayers in Bradford County. Miller and fellow Republican Commissioner Doug McLinko were not an easy sell on the impact fee claiming the gas industry has already done its share to help the county by supplying jobs and a tax base.
When more than 40 of the 50 communities said they want the fee, Miller and McLinko reluctantly voted yes.
“The impact fee was an unnecessary tax that is a tax levied simply because they could,” said Burlington Township Supervisor Ed Grant.
Grant admits there are plenty of ways to use the money in his community but said it is important to spend it wisely.
As for his neighbors, Grant is not convinced they could turn down the money.
“I don’t think they declared they were for the impact fee, they said they’d take the money.”
So as county and local leaders start figuring out how much money they will get and how they will spend it, Democratic Commissioner Mark Smith believes there is a cost to having gas drilling in the county and the impact fee should help offset it.
“The law is imperfect, the decision was live with the law with money or live with the law without money,” said Smith.
Officials said Bradford County should receive the first check from the impact fee this December.