Impact fees paid from natural gas drillers operating in Lycoming County's Marcellus Shale formation will help pay for a new terminal building at the Williamsport Regional Airport.
Members of the Williamsport Regional Airport Authority approved an agreement Thursday evening that will bring $1 million in Act 13 money - known as impact fees - that would be used for feasibility studies and design work for an updated, larger terminal facility.
Natural gas drillers are assessed a fee for each well drilled within the county. Act 13 funds recently were distributed to municipalities throughout the county by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission.
Mark R. Murawski, authority chairman, said the money was offered to the airport authority by the Lycoming County commissioners.
"They wanted to put it toward this project," he said. "The commissioners think it's a good investment."
Impact fees may be used for road, bridge, water and sewer projects and affordable housing needs, among other things, but Murawski said he does not know of many other airports in the state that are using Act 13 funds.
Murawski added that funding the airport terminal project with natural gas drilling impact fees makes sense because almost half of the airport and fixed-based operator's traffic is from Marcellus Shale business.
"It's being treated as a grant. It doesn't have to be paid back," he said of the $1 million.
Related to that funding, authority members approved a continuation of a consulting agreement with Rettew Associates Inc., 416 Pine St., to provide a feasibility study and design plan that will be submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval.
The $13 million terminal replacement is scheduled to be completed by May 2014.
Murawski said an additional $2 million for the project may be available through Federal Highway Administration funds that originally were slated to be used for local road improvements that ended up being cut. However, not all $2 million would fit into the category of the airport terminal replacement.
Authority members approved the agreement for a cost not to exceed $202,900, which may be reimbursed with the impact fee grant, said Thomas J. Hart, authority executive director.
Before members approved the contract, however, some items in the document were struck because members felt they were too favorable to the consulting firm.
"It seems to be very one-sided," said Chris Logue, authority member.
William Martin, authority member, suggested striking out certain provisions instead of trying to negotiate through legal means, in an effort to save time.
"I don't know if we're going to get this project completed in the time allotted," he said.
Murawski also noted the recent passing of long-time authority member George E. Logue Sr., who died late last month.
Logue was recognized for his "outstanding contributions to the authority for many years," Murawski said.
Logue served on the authority's board of directors for 15 years.