COUDERSPORT — The Potter County Salary Board increased the hours, pay and benefits of the Veteran’s Affairs director during its meeting Thursday, Oct. 22.

The director of Veteran’s Affairs position was created in 2004. Then, it was a 12 hour/week job, at $10/hour. The salaries for county employees were set at the beginning of 2020, with the base-rate pay at $14.50/hour, which accounted for a 3% increase from 2018-19 and a .25% increase from 2019-20.

The motion, made by Potter County Commissioner Hayman and seconded by Commissioner Nancy Grupp, was to increase the hours to 29/week and include benefits in the position.

There was an “administrative oversight” somewhere along the way, because since 2009, the person in this position, which Mike Pepper currently holds, has worked more than 12 hours/a week, Paul Heimel, Potter County Commissioner, said.

Krista Miller, county treasurer, said the commissioners had the extra hours in the budget, but it was more likely an “in-house discussion,” rather than an official vote made to increase the hours.

With that, the position didn’t have any benefits tacked onto it. Hayman said the benefits that the director would be eligible for include paid sick days, holidays and vacation and the pension plan.

The board voted unanimously to increase the director’s hours to 29 hours/week with the aforementioned benefits.

The pay was also increased for the position in a separate motion. The hourly rate was $14.50, as the board set the salary at the beginning of the year. The motion, made by Hayman and seconded by Heimel, was to increase the pay to $17.82.

Hayman said the director does a lot of work with local veterans and has a lot of knowledge on different issues that veteran’s face.

“I think any population that’s worthy of full-service, full-time, well-paid Veteran’s Affairs director, is the population among us of veterans,” Hayman said.

Heimel agreed. He said a lot of time goes into very complex claims that the director files on behalf of veterans. He also said compared to other counties, Potter County is lacking in terms of staffing in Veteran’s Affairs positions.

Miller said she agreed the position is important, but still didn’t see anything specific that has happened since the salary was set in January to warrant an increase. She asked if the increase was included in the budget for the rest of the year. Grupp said it would be covered this year and that it would be budgeted for next year.

The motion ultimately passed, with Miller voting against it.

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