By Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania’s counties and municipal governments can expect less money this year from a fee designed to help defray the effects of Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.

The Independent Fiscal Office said Wednesday that it expects impact fee revenue from Marcellus Shale wells to drop by $38 million to about $185 million. That would be the lowest annual payment in its five-year history.

The new disbursements are based on last year’s drilling and are typically paid over the summer.

The agency attributes the drop to the lower price of gas and a 43 percent decline in new wells drilled, to 785 in 2015.

Most of the money goes to county and municipal governments, while smaller amounts are earmarked for environmental improvement programs, roadway repairs and water and sewer infrastructure upgrades.

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