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Commissioners Across Region Gather In Potter County

July 11th, 2017

Doug Hill

Potter County hosted a meeting of the Northwest Pennsylvania County Commissioners Association this week, continuing a tradition that dates back several decades. Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover welcomed their colleagues during a business meeting and issues roundtable at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. The session was followed by a tour of the museum, conducted by administrator Josh Roth.

Guest speaker was Doug Hill, long-time executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. Much of his presentation focused on uncertainties surrounding the 2017-18 state budget and the impact that many of the unresolved issues could have on county governments. With the Pa. House of Representatives adamant about not increasing the income tax or sales tax, the state government faces a $1.2 billion revenue shortfall from fiscal 2016-17 and has advanced a budget that is underfunded by another $800 million for the current fiscal year. Hill also cited a number of federal budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump — emergency management grants, housing assistance, the Community Development Block Grant Program and the Low-Income Home Energy¬†Assistance Program. Bottom line, he told commissioners, is that county taxpayers could have to cover the shortfall by paying high real estate taxes. Hill added that the vast majority of services provided by county governments in Pennsylvania are mandated by state law, but they’re underfunded by the state. The gap has widened over the past decade, he noted, as state funding has been not been increased, but county costs have steadily risen.

Josh Roth conducts tour of the Pa. Lumber Museum.

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