Representative backs bill to use gas fee for stormwater

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com

As he seeks ways to lessen the burden of stormwater runoff costs borne by municipalities and their taxpayers, state Rep. Paul Schemel is lending his support to a measure that would give counties the opportunity to direct revenue from impact fees to those costs.

Schemel's legislative district includes the Borough of Greencastle and Antrim Township. Both municipalities must implement measures under Chesapeake Bay cleanup mandates and MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) permits. The most costly provision is reducing the sediment load from the communities to the Chesapeake Bay by 2023. Both Greencastle and Antrim Township are looking at a streambank restoration project as the most cost-effective way to do this. The price tag is more than $2 million for Antrim Township and $1 million for Greencastle.

Storm water fees have been set in Greencastle, based on the impervious area of each property. The average residential fee is $172 a year, with costs running up to $47,000 for the Greencastle-Antrim School District. The first bills go out the end of this month.

Antrim Township supervisors have decided not to impose a fee until at least the beginning of 2020 and have been asked by some residents to consider paying the whole bill for the first round of MS4 costs from township reserves.

Schemel spoke at a recent House Environmental and Resources Committee meeting about House Bill 781. This legislation sponsored by Rep. Karen Boback, a Republican whose district includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties, would allow counties to use Act 13 impact fees for stormwater management.

The impact fees involved in House Bill 781 are those from natural gas wells.

Schemel told the committee how MS4 permitting requirements and upgrades to discharge systems are affecting the communities he represents. He referenced additional expenses that will be incurred by the Borough of Greencastle.

“For a borough whose annual budget is just a little over a million dollars a year, they are estimating $700,000 additional dollars a year to comply with MS4,” Schemel said in the June 5 meeting.

The representative expressed concerns about the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania being exempt from runoff requirements.

To watch Schemel’s comments see:


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