Tioga commissioners continue with Westan cleanup

WELLSBORO – The former Westan Tannery in Westfield will continue to be cleaned up with assistance from the Tioga County.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners approved an $11,500 grant from the Landfill Escrow account to the Tioga County Development Corp. contingent upon its receipt of a Department of Community and Economic Development grant of $34,650.

Nick Lalic, of Sullivan Township, asked how much the county has invested in the project and wondered when it was going to become profitable.

Commissioner Erick Coolidge said a $50,000 loan from the environmental tipping fee fund was paid back by TCDC, but no other county funds had been used.

Bob Blair, TCDC preesident and CEO, said the organization has requested some of the environmental fund to match a state grant to assess the site.

“This assessment would alleviate proposed owners or banks, to hold them harmless from any environmental responsibility. On Dec. 11, TCDC takes complete ownership that has been seven years in the making,” he said.

According to Blair, the property has generated about $93,000 in taxes back to the county and “this is the first grant we have asked for that will not be repaid.”

“When you redevelop a brownfield it takes several years. Our master plan proposes a 17.5 acre park that could generate up to 200 jobs. Some will be light manufacturing, others service industry. Right now we have a tenant who is a general contractor,” Blair said.

Lalic wanted to know if the organization has a list of potential lessees.

“We’ve shown the site several times, but the big elephant in the room is it needs a $4 million demolition,” Blair said.

In other business, commissioners announced there will be only one meeting next month, at 10 a.m. Dec. 10 at the courthouse, when the budget will be voted on. Until then, the no-tax-hike budget is on display in the commissioner’s office.

Commissioners also:

Approved an agreement with Streamline HR Management LLC, for an annual fee of $495 for up to 500 searches per month to increase to $750 for up to 1,000 searches per month of Department of Human Services employees and vendors per a mandate from the state and federal governments to regarding regulatory and government compliance. “It would cost us double or triple if we were to try and do this with our own employees,” Commissioner Mark Hamilton said.

Approved a grant from the state Housing Finance Agency for the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement fund of nearly $500,000 to be allocated in the amount of $341,288 to the county Homeless Initiative, $107,500 to the Housing Authority’s Rental Assistance program and $50,000 to the Leased Housing Rental start-up program.

Approved $44,238 for Wellsboro Electric Co. for a new electric service installation at the new 911 site, and approved the advertising of requests for proposals for the site, including the communications tower, the equipment shed and a request for qualification of the tower site construction.

Approved the certified tax base in the county of $1.8 billion in taxable value. Chief Assessor Deb Crawford said the tax base is up $24 million since last November. “We have a lot of growth with more to come, so we will continue to see growth.