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PFBC to receive additional money from increased fuel tax

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Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission officials succeeded in getting the agency included in Act 89, the transportation funding bill signed into law just prior to the close of 2013.

The legislation was intended largely to provide money needed to offset a road and bridge repair funding shortage which is in the billions of dollars. It’s doing that with fuel taxes which were raised on Jan. 1, 2014.

Besides drivers of automobiles who use gas so do boaters. The commission felt it should also share in the resulting revenues. Lawmakers agreed, and made sure the commission will be getting some extra money.

Estimates are that the commission will get an additional $3.8 million in fiscal 2013-14, $4.5 million in 2014-15, $5.1 million in 2015-16, $5.8 million in 2016-17 and $6.4 million in 2017-18 and thereafter. That’s over and above the $1.9 million, on average, that the commission has been getting in gas taxes previously.

In time, the commission will be able to use all of its Act 89 money for general boating-related expenses, such as repairing launches and access points, doing safety patrols and more. For the first five years that the money is coming in, however, it must use the additional revenue to repair high-hazard dams.

The commission has nine high-hazard dams in need of repairs right now with a price tag of about $48 million. The least expensive repair job involves Minsi Lake right here in Northampton County which totals $3.1 million. The most expensive is at Hereford Manor in Beaver County, where the commission aims to replace two drained lakes with one new one, at a cost of $12 million.

The commission also has some other money set aside for dam repairs. Oil and gas revenues earned by leasing the mineral rights on some of its properties will soon top $7 million. There’s another $2 to $2.5 million in Growing Greener II grant money left over from past projects, and another possible $1.5 million in federal grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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