GALETON — Borough council here is exploring ways to clean dilapidated properties in town.

“I’ve got one in mind – the former Gulf station,” said Council President Joe Petrencsik at the council’s virtual meeting Feb. 10. “It’s multiple apartments and it’s sitting there empty. I don’t know what the current status is.”

Councilman D.J. Fuller said he was researching government grants that award municipalities funds to fix up dilapidated properties. Borough Solicitor Mike Plummer said county commissioners have the ability to fund such projects by adding a $15 fee to every document, including deeds, easements, sub-divisions, etc., filed at the county recorder of deed’s office.

“I approached the county commissioners about this a few years ago. They were interested back in the day, but they let it drop,” said Plummer. “The new commissioners talked about it at their meeting about a month ago. It’s our hope they’ll start collecting fees on every one of those documents and that when applications become available, we’ll go after it.”

The day after the borough’s meeting, the Potter County Commissioners discussed taking this step. At their meeting Feb. 11, the commissioners voted to advertise an ordinance to collect these fees, and will vote on it at a future meeting.

Plummer also said the borough has a legal right to request to be appointed conservator of uninhabitable properties.

“If we could make the property habitable for a certain amount of money, we could borrow that money, rehab the property and rent or sell it, as long as it’s over what we paid for the mortgage. The rest would go into the borough’s funds,” he said.

Councilmembers said that the borough making a profit while beautifying properties would be a “win-win,” and that they’ll discuss it more at their next meeting.

Also at the meeting, council:

  • Voted resident Darrell Jackson to fill a vacant position on council. Jackson will serve through Dec. 31, and run in this year’s municipal election.
  • Learned from Petrencsik that the borough water authority is likely going to opt out of the Waterous water station as a secondary water source. He said financially, the borough’s only option would be pursuing a second source on the West Branch.
  • Heard from Police Chief Ian Creech that the department handled 72 total incidents last month, including one death investigation, two ordinance complaints, two animal complaints, four frauds, seven traffic warnings, one traffic citation, four suspicious vehicle/persons, seven general calls and 17 follow-ups.
  • Approved the 2021 Galeton Public Library board: Adriane Pierce, Maggie Frith, Beth Lounsbury, Linda Clise, Sue Miller, Ernestine Lovell, Darlene Jackson, Karen Werner, Debby Paul and Deborah Long.
  • Agreed that the Chamber of Commerce can have a Wing-off in the park on May 15, as long as COVID-19 protocol is followed.
  • Said they had no objections to Darren Jones opening a food truck opening at the Sunoco station on Main Street in April, as long as he obtains a soliciting permit from the borough.

Council will next meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 10. To check if the meeting will be held virtually on Zoom, call the borough office at 814-435-2275 closer to that date.

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