COUDERSPORT — The 2020 budget, reflecting no tax increase, as well as the 10-year Tri-County comprehensive plan, to improve five facets in Potter, McKean and Cameron counties, were among the items approved at the Dec. 19 Potter County commissioners’ meeting.

Just prior to the commissioner meeting, Will Hunt, director of the county planning commission, held a public hearing to answer questions and address concerns about the 37-page plan. The five facets addressed in the plan include workforce development, economic base, communities, infrastructure/environment and public health.

“Not only is it a useable plan, but it’s the first tri-county plan (of its kind),” Hunt said.

Hunt said the plan will be re-evaluated annually, based on the issues that arise as the plan is implemented. Resolution 15 of 2019, documenting that plan is approved, passed unanimously.

The 2020 budget was also approved unanimously. Commissioner Paul Heimel said he was impressed the budget showed no increase in taxes, despite expenses increasing overall.

Ellen Russell, director of community development, gave the first report from the Complete Count Committee, a group of seven Potter County residents who will oversee and implement Potter County’s participation in the 2020 United States census. Russell said the committee received training and aide in creation of a work plan and the major at-risk barriers which contribute to an undercount of the census include those who have a distrust of the government, the Amish population and the large population of renters and snowbirds. Russell said door knocking will begin in April, with positions starting at $16.50 per hour, and educational outreach about the census will target the senior centers, food banks, the assistance office, schools, the housing authority, CareerLink, the Northern Tier Children’s Home, Penn State Extension and municipality offices.

Commissioner Susan Kefover suggested the committee talk to First Citizens Community Bank to reach the local Amish population and Heimel said being undercounted can affect the county’s ability to qualify for necessary grants.

“This is the easiest census ever,” Heimel said, noting participation is available by phone, mail and online.

Jessica Giebel, former interim county clerk, was approved as the new chief clerk, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Other agenda items discussed and approved included:

  • Reappointing Charles (Bob) Wicker and Hellen Turner to the Potter County Planning Commission for four-year terms, ending January 2024;
  • Adopting the 2020 base-rate salary schedule for non-union and appointed employees and approving the annual salary increase for non-union and appointed employees;
  • Amending the Jan. 2, 2020 commissioners meeting to Jan. 6, 2020;

The 2020 swearing in ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Jan. 2, at the county courthouse.

The next commissioners meeting will be 11 a.m. onTuesday, Dec. 31 in the Gunzburger Building conference room.