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Archive for February, 2020

Bigger Tax Base For Schools, Municipalities, County

February 23rd, 2020 Comments off

Potter County Tax Assessment Office added nearly $4 million to the county’s tax base in 2019, due in large part to field work taking place across the county to locate new construction and property improvements, Chief Assessor Jacob Ostrom reported that the county’s real estate tax base increased by $3,900,000 in assessed value, translating to about $12.5 million in added market value. Real estate taxes levied by school districts, boroughs, townships and the county government are applied to a property’s assessed value. As a result of the tax base additions, the county government will receive an additional $71,500 in taxes this year. School districts and municipalities will also see higher tax revenue.

Ostrom’s job grew harder several years ago when the state legislature eliminated the position of township and borough tax collector. In prior years, these elected officials were responsible for finding and reporting new construction and improvements. Today, the Assessment Office relies primarily on building permit records and visual inspections to update tax records.

County’s ‘Project 2025’ Charges Out Of Starting Gate

February 23rd, 2020 Comments off

A strategy to address two of the most serious challenges facing Potter County has moved quickly into the implementation stage. “Project 2025” was unveiled last month by Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Paul Heimel and Barry Hayman. It’s a blueprint to reverse the steady descent of the county’s population, coupled with the growing outmigration of young adults. These trends have serious implications for the future vitality and quality of life in Potter County. Most recent U.S. Census Bureau figures reflect another 5-percent drop in population, from 17,462 in 2010 to 16,622 as of June 2019. At the same time, the county’s median age has gradually risen to 47 years, far above the statewide median of 41. The commissioners have assigned two of their department heads, Planning Director Will Hunt and Community Development Director Ellen Russell, to develop and implement Project 2025. Its lofty goal is to assemble stakeholders, conduct intensive research, and implement a strategy to reverse the population loss and median age growth by the end of 2025. Some of the options are spelled out in the 2020-29 Countywide Comprehensive Plan. That document reflects input provided by hundreds of community leaders, business owners, conservation advocates, education and tourism officials, and others with an interest in the county’s future. A website will be developed to serve as a clearinghouse for Project 2025. It will include progress reports, links to helpful resources and other features.

Director Russell shared some details as guest speaker at the Feb. 17 Coudersport Rotary Club meeting.  “Project 2025 is going to require a real team approach and some changes in culture,” she explained. “Too often we hear the words, ‘because we’ve always done it this way,’ and that is a mindset that will have to change if we are going to succeed.”

Among the initial objectives that have been identified are:

  • more effectively seeking input from teens and young adults on the future of their communities;
  • encouraging a complete count in the 2020 U.S. Census (each resident equates to about $21,000 in federal and state funding coming to the county during the new decade);
  • capitalizing on the emergence of high-speed internet service in marketing Potter County as a place to live and start or expand a business;
  • enhancing promotion of state parks, attractions, and natural resources for tourism and relocation to the county;
  • implementing business and economic development strategies (on March 12, the Project 2025 team is hosting a Small Business/Entrepreneur Workshop at the Gunzburger Building)
  • developing innovative strategies to enhance career exploration for both high school students and adults.

(Here, Coudersport Rotary Club President Ruth Sallade, left, welcomes Ellen Russell to the Feb. 17 meeting.)

County Officials Host VA Visit To Discuss Veterans’ Services

February 21st, 2020 Comments off

Potter County hosted a visit by two executives of the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs on Friday as part of an ongoing partnership for the delivery of VA health care to hundreds of the county’s military veterans. Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Paul Heimel and Barry Hayman were joined by Veterans Affairs Director Michael Pepper and Maintenance Director Joe Kurtz in welcoming Bruce Tucker, executive director, and Marie Kervan, associate chief nurse for medicine, from the VA Finger Lakes Health Care System. Their focus was on the Potter County Veterans Clinic, operated by the Bath (N.Y.) VA Medical Center at a county-owned building in Coudersport.

Director Tucker discussed challenges that the VA and other providers have experienced in recruiting certain health care professionals to rural areas. The VA has adjusted by introducing “telehealth” to supplement veterans’ services at many of its medical clinics, including the Potter County facility. Many medical diagnoses can be made through the fiber optic technology. The group toured the local clinic and discussed building modifications that Director Kurtz and the county maintenance crew will be making later this year to meet the VA’s needs. About 300 veterans are regularly seen at the clinic. Director Pepper pointed out that he and the county’s Veterans Service Committee are working on an outreach campaign to apprise veterans of the benefits and services to which they may be entitled. (Shown from left at the local clinic are Michael Pepper, Marie Kervan, Bruce Tucker, Paul Heimel, Barry Hayman and Nancy Grupp.)