Added fees for deeds in county to boost housing

SMETHPORT – The McKean County Board of Commissioners took action Tuesday to add fees to deeds and mortgages to generate revenue for housing programs for low-income residents.Under the proposal, a fee of $13.50 would be added to all deeds and mortgages handled by the county Recorder of Deeds.From the additional fees raised, the county will receive 5 percent for administration costs. The other 95 percent will go for low-income housing programs administered by the Bradford city Office of Economic and Community Development and the McKean County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.The Bradford agency will receive funds based on deeds and mortgages recorded for properties in the city of Bradford and Bradford Township. The county Redevelopment Authority will receive funds for those documents recorded for properties in Kane, Mt. Jewett, Wetmore Township, Hamilton Township, Hamlin Township and other county municipalities outside the city of Bradford and Bradford Township.The assessment of additional fees for deeds and mortgages is authorized under state Act 137, which has been in effect since 1992. McKean County reportedly is one of the last counties in the state to participate in the program.The action taken Tuesday will enable the county to advertise the "language" of the ordinance, which is due to take effect April 1. The commissioners will act at a future meeting to officially adopt the Act 137 program.According to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), Act 137 "requires" that additional revenue raised by the higher deed fees "be expended for any program or project approved by the county commissioners which increases the availability of quality housing-- either sales or rental-- to any county resident whose annual income in less than the median income of the county.""Act 137 is an invaluable tool that local governments can easily use to create or leverage housing resources to enhance their ability to meet the affordable housing needs of their residents," the PHFA said in a statement. The agency said the programs range from "senior citizen housing or owner-occupied rehabilitation work to providing financial assistance for developing rental housing."Joe DeMott, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, joined with Commissioners Al Pingie and Cliff Lane to approve the draft of the ordinance to be advertised.Support for the action came from Dusti Dennis, executive director of the McKean County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, and Sara Andrews, executive director of the Bradford city Office of Economic and Community Development.See full article by purchasing the Jan. 25 edition of The Kane Republican.