Shale Revenue Providing Much Needed Cushion For County Coffers
Revenue generated from Utica Shale development is helping several counties in eastern Ohio replace infrastructure, erase debt and allow for county workers to receive long deserved raises. The revenue has come from land leases, sales taxes and even copy costs incurred at the county recorder’s office. For the counties of Monroe, Belmont and Carroll, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
In BelmontCounty, the county is set to receive $3 million from leasing land to oil and gas producer Rice Energy. The county leased 406 acres of county-owned property for $7,500 an acre in September. According to Commissioners Favede and Coffland, the money will go toward reducing debt, upgrading water and sewer lines, and provide for county employee raises.
In addition to the upfront lease bonuses, the county will receive a 20 percent royalty payment when the property is developed. The royalties will help generate a continuous revenue stream for future economic development projects.
Carroll County is also giving its employees a raise thanks to recent increases to the general revenue fund from sales tax receipts. The sales tax in Carroll County is one percent, and with all of the activity in the county, those numbers quickly add up.
“We have got a lot of money from the gas play, things are going real well,” said Carroll County Auditor E. Leroy VanHorne
Following research from the Ohio Department of Taxation, Carroll County has seen its sales tax allocation increase over 60 percent since 2011. Due to continued shale development in the county, those numbers will only increase.
In Monroe County, it isn’t lease bonus payments or sales tax that is grabbing headlines for oil and gas development impact on the county, but revenue generated from abstractors making copies at the county recorder’s office to research who owns mineral rights.
Monroe County Recorder’s Office has gone from $123,069 in 2010 to more than $1.4 million in 2013, representing a stunning 1,037 percent increase over a three year period. Recorder Ann Block sees this activity remaining for some time. “I think it’s going to keep going on for a while,” Block said. “I don’t know how long. I’m hoping it will keep going. I don’t see it waning at all”
As mandated by the state, of the $1.4 million the County Recorder’s office received, $815,331.04 went to the county’s general fund and $586,319.57 to the Ohio State Housing Trust Fund.
Receiving those funds didn’t come without hard work. Over a two year timeframe, 14,473 documents were recorded and 55 volumes were filled, totaling 55,000 document pages printed. That is a lot of copying for the two full-time employees, one part-time employee and the recorder.
These three counties represent just a snapshot of shale developing counties benefitting from increased activities. Whether it’s sales tax, leasing or copying deeds, the unanticipated income is putting these counties in a much better position than they were before Utica Shale development.