What’s On Potter County Residents’ Minds? Here’s A List

Potter County Today

wethepeopleDuring November, Potter County Commissioners Doug Morley, Susan Kefover and Paul Heimel held a series of “town meetings” at six locations across Potter County. During stops in Shinglehouse, Roulette, Austin, Coudersport, Ulysses and Galeton, they asked citizens to identify issues of concern and to suggest policy changes. They also pledged to convey citizens’ input to state lawmakers.

In the coming week, the commissioners will be sending a summary of the identified issues to leadership of the Senate and House, as well as Governor-elect Tom Corbett and local legislators. Content of the report will be as follows:

  • Natural gas development associated with Marcellus Shale has raised several concerns. Citizens believe that provisions of the Oil and Gas Act should be revisited as a result of new technology and gas extraction techniques, as well as issues that have surfaced since legislation was last approved. They are especially concerned about drilling taking place in close proximity to community water sources. Citizens also believe DEP has too few inspectors to effectively enforce current laws.
  • Citizens feel strongly that local governments in areas where gas drilling has intensified and affected infrastructure should receive a significant portion of the revenue from any severance tax or impact fee that is imposed on gas production.
  • Economic development is a priority throughout Potter County. State assistance, such as grants, tax incentives or low-interest loans, is needed to incentivize private property owners to invest in retrofitting/renovating buildings and creating jobs in an uncertain economy.
  • Mandate relief was a commonly heard theme. Municipal officials would like to see changes in regulatory policies, competitive bidding thresholds, prevailing wage requirements and tax policies that have burdened local governments. There is strong support for local government (county in particular) to be given greater flexibility in using state funding to address local needs. Administrative requirements are often excessive and pointless and could in many cases be streamlined.
  • Impact of state budget cuts on local services – programs for the needy in particular– are a major concern. Many citizens fear that municipal, county and school district taxes will have to be increased as the state tightens its belt. Some citizens believe that cost savings can be achieved more from elimination of waste, rather than cutting state appropriations for vital services.
  • Strong opposition was voiced to the proposal to require townships/boroughs to make per-capita payments for Pennsylvania State Police coverage. Opposition to forced consolidation of municipal governments is also unanimous.
  • The complexities and ramifications of a real estate tax reassessment were aired. State funding for reassessment and comprehensive updating/revision of assessment laws could ease the burden. (Note: The county’s five public school districts have commissioned a detailed examination of the local tax system to determine economic forecasts and options for future financial decisions.)
  • Many Potter County citizens feel disenfranchised and believe economic development potential is stifled by lack of access to internet access and wireless phone service.
  • Citizens believe the sprinkler system requirement for newly constructed homes is excessive and impractical. It will increase home prices in an economically depressed area and many homes lack sufficient water pressure to allow sprinklers to be functional.

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