POTTER COUNTY — Potter County Commissioners ended 2020 by adopting a LERTA ordinance.

The Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act authorizes a tax incentive program to revitalize areas, support business expansion and help create jobs.

The ordinance outlines a five-year index. New construction or expansions to commercial buildings in Potter County could qualify for a temporary reduction in the county portion of real estate taxes. Under the county’s ordinance, qualifying property owners would receive a 100% tax abatement in the first year, which would decrease by 20% each year (80% tax abatement in the second year, 60% in the third year, 40% in the fourth year and 20% in the fifth year).

Ivan Lehman, of Northeastern Potter Economic Development Association, commended the commissioners for moving forward with the LERTA ordinance, saying it is needed in Potter County. LERTA doesn’t cover residential development, but Lehman argued that is what is needed most. He said businesses aren’t attracted to areas with blighted properties.

“We can offer them all kinds of incentives for the tax assessment indexing and so forth, but they need to have a market to attract customers to their business,” Lehman said.

Jake Ostrom, the county’s chief assessor, said this specific law does not cover residential, it mostly applies to commercial and industrial.

The commissioners received a letter of support from the North Central Penn Board of Realtors, Commissioners Paul Heimel said. During a public hearing, Potter County Education Council Business and Education Liaison Bob Wicker shared his support for the tax incentive, Heimel said.

In personnel business, Jedidiah Horne, part-time corrections officer at the jail, resigned from his position, effective Dec. 9. A paid internship was rescinded in the office of the district attorney. David Verbocy was hired as an aging care manager in human services and Dan Foster was hired for emergency part-time maintenance help.

Commissioners approved four virtual trainings for employees within human services.

Sylvania Township received $408.14 in liquid fuel tax funds.

Commissioner Nancy Grupp announced Potter County government buildings, including the Gunzburger Building, reopened Jan. 4 to the public. Masks and social distancing are still required.

The next Potter County Commissioners meeting is set for 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 14. The public may attend or can participate via telephone by dialing 814-274-0844, and at the prompt entering 114477#.

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