[Marxism] Frack Job » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue May 21 14:31:47 MDT 2013
Gas “Frackers” Come to a School District’s Rescue?
by MICHAEL D. YATES
Two schools, one a vocational technical high school and the other an
elementary school, sit on tracts of land a few blocks from the house in
which I grew up, in Ford City (Armstrong County), Pennsylvania. The
communities served by them are, for the most part, not particularly
prosperous. Household incomes, wages, home prices, rents, and levels of
education are below the state average; while poverty, unemployment, and
air pollution are above it.
Many property owners in the area are elderly women, living on small
pensions and social security. Their property taxes finance the schools,
and as these rise, the tax burden can be considerable. This encumbrance
is made subjectively worse by the fact that these older taxpayers no
longer have children in school.
For the local school board, rising costs—including those for the ever
growing number of administrators—and a limited and potentially
rebellious tax base have created a budget crisis. The current budget
shows a deficit of five million dollars. However, the board has come up
with an ingenious way to deal with its revenue shortfall.
To help pay its bills, the school board is courting (or being courted
by) two energy companies, with an eye toward leasing public property for
natural gas hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking.”
According to the school district’s solicitor, the two “frackers,” which
are owned by members of the same family, are “offering” to acquire
leasing rights on tracts of land near the two schools. “We’re trying to
do what we can to bring some money in,” said Board president Joe Close.
“Superintendent Stan Chapp said the district projects it could earn up
to $1.5 million on it during the next 15 to 20 years.”
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