Pennsylvania Expands Use of Recreational Fees by Municipalities

October 22, 2019

Park BenchOn September 24, 2014, Governor Corbett signed House Bill No. 1052, also known as Act 135 of 2014, into law expanding the use of recreational fees collected by municipalities.  The Act amends Section 503(11) of the Municipalities Planning Code, which previously was silent as to whether recreational fees collected in lieu of dedication of recreational land could be used for operating or maintaining park or recreational facilities outside the development on which the fees are exacted.  The amendment now clearly provides that recreational fees may be used for “providing, acquiring, operating or maintaining park or recreational facilities reasonably accessible to the development” from which the fees are exacted.  Although the use of recreational fees for operating and maintaining parks and recreational facilities outside a development was never expressly prohibited by the language of the MPC, many practitioners had interpreted the lack of express permission as a limitation to use of recreational fee money for only capital expansion of parks and recreational facilities within the development on which the fees were exacted.  The amendment now clarifies and expressly allows an expanded interpretation on the use of recreational fees.

The amendment also removes the requirement that municipalities utilize recreational fee money paid to them within three (3) years from the date of payment.  Previously, the MPC allowed a developer to recoup recreational fee money if not used within this three (3) year period.  Now, the amendment only allows a developer to recoup recreational fees paid if used for a purpose other than the purposes set forth in Section 503(11).  Many municipalities were previously challenged to spend recreational fees collected within the developments from which the fees were exacted.  Many times small parks or playgrounds were constructed without a viable plan or source for funding the operation and maintenance of the facilities.  This amendment to the MPC should allow for a more regionalized approach to parks and recreation facilities and also provide a stream of income that can clearly be spent operating and maintaining the parks following construction.

Please contact Christian Miller at (717) 845-1524, or, with questions regarding this topic or any other municipal matters that relate to townships, boroughs, cities, or authorities.

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