July 26, 2008

Lackawanna Trail Seeking Bids for Natural-Gas Lease

By Josh Mrozinski, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.

Jul. 26--CLINTON TOWNSHIP -- Administrators at the Lackawanna Trail School District are soliciting bids for a natural gas lease whose revenue could benefit taxpayers.

"Whatever we get is a boon," business manager David Homish said. "We don't have anything in the budget for this."

He added that money from a natural-gas lease would likely be placed in the fund balance and "help defray any future tax increase."

Lackawanna Trail is the most recent school district in Wyoming County to want to pursue natural-gas well development. It wants a minimum royalty of 16 percent and a minimum upfront payment of $2,260 per acre.

The school district hopes to lease a 28.89-acre parcel and a 45.35-acre parcel near the high school for at most five years. The high school is located just west of Route 11, between Factoryville and Nicholson.

At the bid invitation price, Lackawanna Trail would receive $164,980, which equals on average 2 mills worth of tax revenue, Mr. Homish said. One mill equals $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

Proposals are due Aug. 18 and will be opened that night during a School Board meeting.

"The board has decided to put it out to bid to get the best possible deal for the district," Lackawanna Trial solicitor Sandra Boyle said.

She added that Lackawanna Trail may negotiate with companies if proposals are not received.

Noting that the primary purpose of the school district is to educate youths and not natural gas well development, Ms. Boyle said a no-surface operation lease is being sought.

That means a company would not be able to drill directly on Lackawanna Trail's property.

Instead, a company would have to access the Marcellus Shale beneath the school property through drilling from adjacent land.

Contact the writer: [email protected] County looking at leasing land

HONESDALE -- The Wayne County commissioners on Thursday gave permission to Woodland Design Associates Inc. to prepare a request for proposal seeking gas lease inquiries.

Vicky Lamberton, county chief clerk, said the land in question is 193 acres in Berlin Township that house the county recycling center and recreation fields.

Commission Chairman Brian Smith abstained from the vote, because he may be involved with negotiating a gas lease on private property, Ms. Lamberton said.

The county's contract with Woodland Design calls for $1,000 up front and additional money if the county signs a gas lease, she said.

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