Archive

Archive for September, 2017

PILT Eagle Lands: Potter County Gets $650,000 More

September 27th, 2017 Comments off

School Distrcit PILTMunicipality PILT

The 67-percent increase of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) for state forest and park lands approved by the state legislature after an intensive lobbying campaign has borne fruit. Checks were mailed out this week by the Treasury Department. Bottom line: another $650,000 annually coming to Potter County, divided between school districts, local governments and the county. The increase applies to lands owned by the Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources – increasing their total annual PILT amount from $3.60 to $6.00 per acre. Of that, $2.00 has been sent to the municipality, school district and county where the land is located. The $3.60 figure remains in place for property owned by the Pa. Fish & Boat Commission and Pa. Game Commission.

These higher payments will provide significant tax relief to some of Pennsylvania’s most stressed communities, particularly those in rural areas, according to the Pa. State Land Tax Fairness Coalition, which issued this statement: “We express our appreciation to supportive Senate and House members, Governor Wolf, and the many other people — too numerous to mention — who pulled together to make this mission a success. We believe that, in the final analysis, dedicated elected officials who became aware of our plight over the past two-plus years pulled together in a bipartisan manner to advance this PILT increase because they recognized that it was the right thing to do. ” Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel chaired the coalition. Other leaders were Commissioners Pete Smeltz (Clinton), Phil Jones (Cameron) and Tony Mussare (Lycoming).

Potter County Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt, who also served on the committee, has prepared maps and charts showing the increased revenue each taxing body will receive each year. Shown at left is the school district map (click on image twice to make it larger). Austin Area School District is nnow receiving $269,000 annually under the new formula, a $127,600 increase from the previous PILT. Galeton Area School District is getting $122,226 annually, up from the previous $73,335. Coudersport Area School District is receiving a $38,000 annual increase, while Northern Potter gets another $18,000. The county government has received a $216,420 increase from the previous annual payments. A breakdown of municipal payments can be found in the map at right (click on image twice).

Courthouse Television Program Now On County Website

September 20th, 2017 Comments off

David Castano details the Statue of Justice history for Pennsylvania Cable Network.

A 30-minute program about Potter County history and interesting features for visitors that aired recently on the Pennsylvania Cable Network can now be viewed in its entirety on the county’s website, pottercountypa.net. A production crew from PCN spent two days in Coudersport earlier this summer filming local scenes and conducting interviews as part of PCN’s Historic Courthouses series. Major focus is on the Potter County Courthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, Historical Society President David Castano and Commissioner Paul Heimel, as hosts, made sure the program spotlighted stories and attractions that would be of interest to tourists. Filming took place in and around the courthouse, as well as nearby sections of Coudersport with interesting architecture or historical significance. The crew also filmed at the Potter County Historical Society Museum and the F.W. Gunzburger County Office Building.

“The producers were very interested in Potter County’s connections to crimefighter Eliot Ness, the infamous thieves known as the Brinks Gang, famous musician Ole Bull, and other local story lines,” Commissioner Heimel said. Castano, who was the narrator and tour guide, shared colorful stories about local history, including the public execution of wife-killer Joshua Jones – whose skull is on display at the museum – and the background on the establishment of the town square and construction of the 156-year-old courthouse. Among local familiar faces appearing in the program are Judge Stephen Minor, Tillie Masolotte, Ed Thompson, Alex Fish and Kim Schaar.

“We were pleased to hear from the crew that this was one of the most interesting shows PCN has worked on since the courthouse series began several years ago,” Heimel pointed out. “One of them said the biggest challenge was assessing the volume of material they collected to determine what would make the cut for a half-hour program.”

Business Owners Hear Details On Facade Grants

September 20th, 2017 Comments off

Businesses in several Potter County communities may be eligible for funding to help pay for cosmetic improvements under a grant being administered by the Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance and the Pennsylvania Wilds organization. Maximum grant is $5,000 and must be matched dollar-for-dollar by the property owner. Included in the “regional façade improvement program” are Galeton, Coudersport, Austin and Ulysses boroughs, as well as the townships of Roulette, Eulalia, Sweden, Ulysses and Pike. Latest in a series of public meetings about the program was held on Wednesday at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport. Shown from left are presenters Gwen Auman, project coordinator; Terri Dennison, Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance executive director; and Ta Enos, Pennsylvania Wilds Center executive director.

“To attract visitors and most other kinds of investment, communities need to appear welcoming,” said Enos. “This program helps communities achieve that.” Eligible types of restoration activities include design assistance, paint, signs and repair or replacement of awnings. More information is available from the Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance office in Galeton, telephone 814-435-7706.

Local Water Operators Oppose Per-Capita Fee

September 20th, 2017 Comments off

Potter County’s Triple Divide Watershed Assn. has taken a position against proposed changes in state law that would result in a higher per-capita fee being paid by customers of public water systems. The proposal, contained in proposed changes to Pa. Chapter 109, is currently open for public input. A copy of the TDWC letter follows:

“Living in northern rural Pennsylvania certainly has its perks. However, our small municipalities struggle when it comes to providing government-mandated services. The Chapter 109 Proposed Regulatory Updates would have a negative financial impact on our municipal authorities. We service many seasonal customers in Potter County. It can certainly be difficult to keep our rates at a practical cost for our customers, whether they are full-time or part-time. We understand that DEP has a shortage of sanitarians and other water inspection personnel. We agree that the protection of all water resources in Pennsylvania is vital. Townships, boroughs and other affiliates of the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition believe that the fees currently being charged should not be increased. We believe the legislature has short-funded DEP and local governments (and their ratepayers) should not be compelled to cover the difference. The proposed fee schedule would cause an unfair hardship for smaller municipalities, even as it would be less burdensome to the larger service providers. If an increase in fee is the only solution, we believe that those in the rural areas should not be compelled to pay a higher fee per-customer than those in more populous areas.”

Triple Divide Watershed Coalition members are Austin Borough, Coudersport Borough Authority, Cole Memorial Hospital, Galeton Borough Authority, Genesee Township Water Authority, Northern Tier Children’s Home, Roulette Township, Shinglehouse Borough and Ulysses Borough.

‘Do Not Call’ List Wards Off Unwanted Phone Calls

September 14th, 2017 Comments off

donotcalllist1Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection advises telephone customers that they can limit the number of unsolicited calls they receive by signing up for the Do Not Call Program. A list of phone numbers is updated and provided to telemarketers on a quarterly basis. Telemarketers in Pennsylvania are required to purchase this list and must remove every name on it within 30 days. If they don’t, they can be fined up to $3,000. If they get caught a second time, the sanctions are stiffer. There are two ways to register your home phone and cell phone numbers. You can call 1-888-382-1222 or you can visit the website, donotcall.gov.  Your name will remain on the Do Not Call list for five years. After this time, you will need to re-register.

Exceptions are made for calls in response to a consumer’s previously expressed request; calls made in reference to a debt, contract, payment or performance; established business relationships and calls made on behalf of a tax-exempt charitable or fraternal organization, veterans organization, political group or candidate.

Videoconferencing System Installed At County Jail

September 8th, 2017 Comments off

A videoconferencing system is now operating at the Potter County Jail. It’s expected to reduce costs, enhance communications and improve access to services for inmates who are diagnosed with mental illness or other behavioral health issues. The system’s $4,100 cost was covered by state grants and installation was completed in-house. County maintenance director Joe Kurtz and information technology director Bill Solomon worked with jail management to develop and interconnect the videoconference facility. Experiences in other county jails have demonstrated that the conferencing technology cuts down on transportation costs that would otherwise be incurred for in-person court appearances. The system will also be used for attorney/client communications, criminal conferences involving prosecutors and defense lawyers, and inmate consultation with therapists, counselors and other service providers. Videoconferencing can also be used for family visitation. The Potter County Criminal Justice Advisory Board approved the plan to seek funding for the system, with concurrence by Judge Stephen Minor, District Attorney Andy Watson, Jail Warden Glenn Drake and Deputy Warden Angela Milford. The project was also supported by Commissioners Doug Morley, Susan Kefover and Paul Heimel. Colleen Wilber, the county’s director of drug and alcohol services, secured the funding and developed the operational plan.