‘Homestead Exemption” Tax Cut Deadline Friday

February 24th, 2024 Comments off

Potter County homeowners who qualify for the “homestead exemption” receive a credit on their school taxes, reflecting a discount for owner-occupied homes. School districts are reimbursed from money the state receives from licensed gambling establishments.

Austin Area School District homeowners had a reduction of $442 in 2023. In Coudersport, the tax cut was $238. Tax credits in Galeton were $286; Oswayo Valley, $204; Northern Potter, $286; and Port Allegany, $281.

Some homeowners have not applied for the homestead exemption since the program was introduced. Those who may qualify and are not enrolled have been notified by mail. They have until Friday, March 1, 2024, to apply for the reduction on their 2024-25 school tax bills.

An application form is available on the county website, pottercountypa.net (click on Departments and Assessment/Tax). In most cases, those who are already registered will not have to apply, but there may be exceptions in some school districts. To verify that you are registered, it is best to call the Assessment Office at 814-274-0517.

Future tax reductions will fluctuate, based on the amount of revenue the state derives from gambling operations. School tax bills are mailed out in July. Taxpayers will receive a two-percent discount if they pay their bill by Sept. 30. A penalty is applied to payments made after Nov. 30.

Updates On County Operational Improvement Initiatives

February 22nd, 2024 Comments off

Potter County Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Robert Rossman and Paul Heimel have provided an update on their ongoing Operational Improvement Initiatives:

1– Information Technology Upgrade

Goals: Improve functionality and security.

  • Assess current technological resources – servers, computers, software.
  • Review security/risk – firewalls, employee education.
  • Document retention improvements – shared drives/backups.
  • Training/employee education – ongoing.
  • Continuing review of best practices.

CURRENT STATUS: Completed

 

2 — Risk Management at Potter County Jail

Goal: In partnership with the Potter County Jail Board, retain the Pa. Counties Risk Pool (PCoRP) to conduct a comprehensive risk management review of the county jail and develop a plan to implement recommendations.

  • Engage an expert to study operations, facilities, policies and procedures and pinpoint areas that might increase the risk of litigation or other adverse outcomes at the jail (completed)
  • Refer findings to the Jail Board to prepare recommendations for full board (completed)
  • Continuing review of best practices.

CURRENT STATUS:  Deputy Warden hired, as recommended. Implementation of other recommendations/best practices continuing.

 

3 — Grant Writing/Administration

Goal: To make Potter County more competitive in qualifying for federal, state and foundational grants; to coordinate pursuit of grants with county departments and agencies, local governments, community organizations, regional agencies and other stakeholders.

  • Develop a strategic plan that will incorporate specialized training, an assessment of internal resources, and the development of partnerships.
  • Pursue grants to support county government and countywide initiatives, with potential to expand to grant-writing assistance to boroughs, townships, businesses and nonprofits.
  • Affiliation with professional grant-writing organizations, Northcentral Pa. Regional Planning and Development Commission/Grant Assistance Division, and other resources.

CURRENT STATUS: In progress.

 

4 — Short- and Long-Term Financial/Operational Management Planning

Goal: Engage with the Pa. Dept. of Community and Economic Development to qualify for DCED’s Strategic Management Planning Program (STMP) and implement consultants’ recommendations.

  • Circulate Request for Proposals to list of qualified consultants (completed)
  • Create short- and long-term financial plans (budgeting, capital projects planning, overall efficiency and opportunities for improvements).
  • Review each department’s operations/staffing and needs.
  • Implement consultant’s plan and establish system to measure results/progress through scheduled periodic review.

CURRENT STATUS: DCED grant approved; four bid packages received from consultants currently under review. Best practices from other countywide STMP projects being evaluated.

 

5 — Update of Human Resources Policies

Goal: Engage a PCoRP risk management specialist to review county personnel policies and a broad spectrum of related issues.

CURRENT STATUS: Review has been completed and findings submitted by consultant. Being implemented by county administration.

 

6—Strategic Economic and Community Development/”Revitalize Potter County”

Goal: Coordination, communication and unified long-term planning to implement high-priority community/economic development strategies identified in the Potter County Comprehensive Plan 2020-2029 to address population loss and youth outmigration.

  • Fill Community Development Coordinator vacancy and combine County Community Development and Planning/GIS Departments for shared administrative resources and day-to-day coordination as directed by the Board of Commissioners (completed).
  • Application to Pa. Council on the Arts for a multi-year Creative Communities for Community and Economic Development Grant (approved; County Creative Council, PC3, incorporated.)
  • Application to Pa. Dept. of Economic and Community Development for Countywide Economic Revitalization Implementation Plan (application submitted).
  • Development of a Site Promotion Program for Business and Economic Growth (underway).
  • Outreach to Potter County Redevelopment Authority, townships/boroughs, community organizations, regional agencies, employers and other potential partners/stakeholders.
  • Engagement with Pa. Economic Development Assn. and other agencies dedicated to supporting agriculture/forest management, travel and tourism, manufacturing, retail and other economic drivers.

CURRENT STATUS: In progress

 

7—Improvement of 911 Emergency Communications System

Goals: Inspection of county 911 emergency communications towers/infrastructure to ensure reliable 24/7 coverage; assistance to local fire, ambulance, police and other public safety agencies; improved communications with local emergency service providers.

  • Contract with MCM Consulting Group Inc. to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the county’s emergency communications system and develop a technical plan for any recommended enhancements (completed; draft report prepared and being reviewed).
  • Inspect county’s public safety radio communications infrastructure (towers/supplemental power sources/other infrastructure) and review dispatching services (completed).
  • Review radios, repeaters and other equipment being used by local and regional emergency response agencies to ensure compatibility and functionality with the county’s infrastructure (completed).
  • Solicit input from fire, ambulance and police agencies on their needs (completed).
  • Review county staffing/support services (completed)
  • Assessment and implementation of consultant recommendations (pending).

CURRENT STATUS: In progress

Community Garden Plots Now Available

February 5th, 2024 Comments off

It will soon be time to spring into action at the Potter County Community Garden. Applications for garden plots will continue to be accepted until all spaces have been claimed. Three new plots have been added, bringing the total to 31 garden beds, with four being raised for handicapped or disability access. Located at 7 Water Street in Coudersport, the Community Garden will open its gates again on April 20 for individuals and groups to use a free garden plot, regardless of income.

Individual and group applications are available at Hershey’s Market, Kaytee’s, Coudersport Public Library, Coudersport Senior Center, UPMC Wellness Center, Coudersport Pediatrics, and the Penn State Extension office in the Gunzburger Building. Interested parties can also email pccg2022@gmail.com to request an application. For more information, see the Facebook page, Potter County Community Garden; or call 814-274-8540, ext. 100. The Community Garden is a cooperative effort between the Potter County Commissioners, UPMC Cole, Penn State Extension, and Potter County Conservation District. Its mission is to:

  • empower the community to plant, grow and harvest their own produce.
  • provide education on the value of gardening.
  • promote community interaction & unity.
  • offer solutions to food insecurity where groceries and healthy eating can be limited.

 

Next Jail Board Meeting Scheduled March 1

January 31st, 2024 Comments off

The Potter County Jail Board public meeting originally scheduled for Feb. 2 has been cancelled. The next meeting will be held at noon on Tuesday, March 1, at the F.W. Gunzburger County Office Building auditorium. Telephone access to the meetings is available at 814-274-0844; PIN is #114477.

During the board’s most recent meeting, Sheriff Kevin Siska and Commissioner Robert Rossman were welcomed as new members. They succeed Glenn Drake and Barry Hayman, respectively. Other board members are Judge Stephen Minor, District Attorney Andy Watson, and Commissioners Nancy Grupp and Paul Heimel. Those with questions or comments about the jail are reminded that they can submit them to the board through email sent to pcjailboard@pottercountypa.net.

County 911 System Review Nearing Completion

January 28th, 2024 Comments off

Last year, the Potter County Commissioners contracted with MCM Consulting Group Inc. to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the county’s emergency communications system and develop a technical plan for any recommended enhancements. MCM was also contracted to support local fire, ambulance and police agencies by reviewing their equipment to ensure functionality and compatibility with the county 911 infrastructure.

MCM representatives recently updated the commissioners and staffers of the Department of Emergency Services on the project. The company is putting the final touches on its findings after conducting a multi-phased assessment, including:

  • an inspection and analysis of county 911 towers and related technology;
  • a review of the equipment being used by local and regional emergency response agencies.
  • a survey of all emergency responders to determine potential areas of improvement, ranging from equipment functionality and efficiency to dispatching.
  • site inspections and interviews with emergency responders.
  • preparedness for the deployment of  “NextGen 911,” which provides a faster, more resilient system that allows voice, photos, videos and text messages to flow from the public to the 911 network. It also improves dispatch center management of call overload and transfer of 911 calls based on location tracking.

To pave the way for NextGen 911, Potter County completed a $4 million systemwide upgrade in 2018-19. The project involved 14 communication towers with fiber-optic service, microwave relay technology and other infrastructure. County GIS staffer Julie Logue has been building and maintaining a database of geographic information system addresses for each property in the county, which is necessary for a fully functional emergency dispatching system.

Volunteers Needed For Human Services Advisory Boards

January 6th, 2024 Comments off

Programs administered by Potter County Human Services (PCHS) affect hundreds of lives across the county. PCHS offers opportunities for public input on its many programs through dedicated advisory boards. Clients and their family members or caregivers, as well as community representatives, are encouraged to participate. All board meetings are open to the public. PCHS operates programs for victims of alcoholism and other drug abuse, older citizens, the mentally ill, children who are at risk, the intellectually disabled and those who are homeless or otherwise disadvantaged. Volunteer advisory board members are appointed by the Potter County Board of Commissioners. Anyone interested in being considered for appointment to any of the boards should contact the Commissioners Office at 274-8290, extension 207.

One group of volunteers holds quarterly meetings to provide input on the overall operations of PCHS. Directors of the county agency depend on the Potter County Human Services Advisory Board in determining program priorities and other policies and practices. This year’s meetings will be held at 2 pm Jan. 25, April 25, July 25 and Oct. 24 at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport.

An Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Advisory Board serves in a consulting role to PCHS in the delivery of prevention and treatment programs. The field has been changing dramatically in recent times with a growing methamphetamine epidemic, the abuse of prescription drugs, and heroin addiction. Alcohol and tobacco, among other drugs, also take a toll among county residents. AOTD meetings will be held at noon on the second Friday of each month. To participate, call PCHS at 814-544-7315 for further information.

An Area Agency on Aging Advisory Board offers input to administrators of programs and services for older county residents, ranging from senior centers and home-delivered meals to in-home care and assistance with Medicare. To participate, call PCHS at 814-544-7315.