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Sunday, May 25, 2008

PA School Districts Losing Big Money Since Natural Gas Wells Were Ruled Untaxable In 2002

Bald Eagle Area School District Superintendent Dan Fisher last week points to Centre County’s place in the Marcellus shale distribution. Fisher said his district is losing more than $1 million in annual revenue since natural gas wells were ruled untaxable in 2002. They’re taxed in almost all other states, and legislation to change state law is in limbo.

Sunday, May. 25, 2008

BEA superintendent says wells should be taxed

WINGATE — When Bald Eagle Superintendent Dan Fisher looks at red dots plotted on aerial photos of his school district, he sees $1.5 million that he thinks should be flowing into his district’s coffers.

He’s rallying support for a change in state law to make that happen.

The dots on the photos represent natural gas wells drilled in recent years. Seven years ago, only a handful of dots — Fisher calls them “chickenpox” — existed.

Back then, so did a gas-well property tax. The district drew $65,000 annual in tax revenue from those few wells until the state Supreme Court killed the tax in 2002, ruling that it wasn’t authorized by state law.

Now, Fisher flips to a more recent map of Burnside Township and sees a chickenpox epidemic of sorts. Looking at the dozens of red dots representing newly drilled gas wells, Fisher can’t help but wonder how much tax revenue his district could be receiving annually if the gas companies were still paying property taxes.

“I think $1 million, $1 million and a half is a really conservative estimate,” he said. Read more on
pending legislation to restore the tax on natural gas.

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