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Glade Run fix hasn’t sought tax increase

September 14, 2013 Letters to the Editor

The article about Glade Run Lake (“Conservancy head: Lawmakers need to step up for lake,” Sept. 8) quoted Butler County Commissioneer Bill McCarrier stating, “If we give you the money, would you be in favor of raising taxes?” But Glade Run Lake Conservancy’s request never involved taxpayers’ money and we never suggested or asked for money that would incur higher taxes.

At a meeting earlier this year, commissioners McCarrier and Dale Pinkerton were asked point-blank by the conservancy board to allocate money from the state Act 13 Marcellus Shale Legacy fund.

Butler County has received more than $2 million from spud and unconventional gas wells and more than $310,000 of rehabilitation Greenways money, according to the website www.act13-reporting.puc.pa.gov/Modules/Reports/Reports.aspx.

Act 13 specifies where this money should be allocated. Legacy funds are specifically earmarked for special purposes and are not to be co-mingled with operating funds.

It has nothing to do with the county’s capital budget. Some of the money has been correctly placed in a capital reserve fund totaling more than $103,000 for 2011. But so far there aren’t any figures for 2012. So when I read the quote from McCarrier, I have to respectfully disagree with his assertion that the only way to fix Glade Run Lake is to raise taxes.

The mention of raising taxes is not true and the impression he gave in his statement needs to be corrected.

It is true the commissioners gave the Conservancy $4,000 last year and we thanked them, but that money came out of the capital budget, not from the Act 13 Legacy fund.

McCarrier and Pinkerton told us they will review our request concerning legacy money when they do the budget for 2014. That is correct; however, they did raise the tax rate by 1 mill this past year and are pushing for a new building and parking lot that will cost the taxpayers more than $12 million. But where is the Act 13 Legacy money going and, as important, where do they plan to spend it?

The conservancy and people of Butler County have a right to know. Much of it is going to the nursing home, emergency preparedness and pool repairs at Alemeda park to the amount, according to McCarrier, of $200,000.

That’s quite a remarkable difference from the amount the Conservancy was given. It appears the will of close to 2,000 members and the tireless efforts of the conservancy officers and board of directors hasn’t made an impression on the county commissioners.

Other counties in our state stepped up to the plate and came to the aid of lakes that were drained after being designated a High Hazard dam similar to Glade Run. Cumberland County awarded Opossum Lake $609,000 and Lehigh County awarded Leaser Lake more than $500,000 to help fix their dams and restore their lakes. Our county, by sad comparison, has given the conservancy a mere $4,000. The conservancy has received several gifts from donors that individually far exceed this amount.

The Act 13 Legacy money from 2011 and 2012 has already been sent to the county. So, why not be supportive leaders and allocate a substantial part of that money and every subsequent year to fix the dam immediately?

The commissioners could do that now instead of waiting to approve the 2014 capital budget. That move would show other legislators in our area and the governor that the elected officials from Butler County are truly supportive of the Glade Run Lake Conservancy in its efforts on behalf of all the citizens of Butler County. It is not taxpayers’ money but rather, money derived from the Marcellus Shale wells and drilling impact fees that the legislation of Act 13 has earmarked for the environment and surface and subsurface water reclamation as areas where the money should be allocated.