COUDERSPORT – Potter County Commissioners unanimously adopted the 2018 budget during their Thursday, Dec. 21 meeting.
The commissioners approved the budget after a nearly month-long public review period. The budget of more than $9 million is dependent upon state and federal funding that is not guaranteed. The county continues to await some state payments, including more than $100,000 for its share of the district attorney salary.
The budget called for a tax resolution setting the county rate at 17.5 mills for 2018, an increase of 0.5 mills. The county expects to see about $170,000 in increased revenue.
Commissioners said that costs increase annually, by as much as $500,000. The tax increase does not completely cover rising costs, which have been mitigated through tightening of department budgets and seeking grant opportunities, said officials.
Discussion was held on the need for 911 emergency communications systems upgrades, expected to cost approximately $3.5 million. The current system was designed to last approximately 10 years, and was installed in 2002. Last meeting, a grant from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency was accepted, which will contribute more than $500,000 for repairs needed as part of the upgrades.
Also at the meeting, commissioners discussed the result of an inspection conducted at the Potter County Jail.
A state inspection held in November found the facility to be in full compliance with standards for operations and facilities this year, and noted that all items noted as deficiencies during last year’s inspection and reviews prior to this year had been remedied prior to inspectors coming on-site, according to commissioner Paul Heimel.
“Warden Glenn C. Drake II, Deputy Warden Angela Milford and the Potter County Jail staff deserve credit for their efforts in operating this facility in accordance with statewide correctional standards, with no deficiencies or citations to report,” as was reported by state Department of Corrections Christopher Oppman, deputy secretary of administration.
The inspection, which was completed by Stephen Noll, focused on the following areas: personnel, admission/release, orientation, inmate rules, staff procedure, classification, housing, clothing, bedding, food services, personal hygiene, medical/health services, visiting, telephone communications, mail, work programs, access to legal services, religion, treatment services, incoming publications, deaths, sexual assaults, notifications and sanitation/maintenance/safety.
The Potter County Jail was constructed in 1869 and underwent extensive remodeling and reconstruction in 1995. The all-male facility can hold up to 73 inmates, but only 25 were housed there during the inspection.
A resident attended the meeting to voice his concerns over a number of locations throughout the county that are not handicapped-accessible. The buildings noted are not county facilities, and it is unlikely that the commissioners would have jurisdiction over the locations to be able to address any of his concerns.
Reorganizational meetings of the Potter County Salary and Retirement Boards will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 2. The next regular meeting of the Potter County Commissioners will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 4. Meetings are held in the first-floor conference room at the Gunzburger Building in Coudersport.