Can L3, Charter survive mergers?
He assured Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover that he is eager to be involved in any efforts being pursued locally to prevent major telecommunications industry mergers from causing job losses at two Coudersport employers.
Last year, CenturyLink reached a deal to buy Level 3 Communications for $19.4 billion in a deal that’s forecasted to close by September 2017. Company officials are tight-lipped on the impact at Level 3’s Coudersport operations in the former Adelphia Business Solutions/King Windows facility. Meanwhile, Charter Communications took over the massive and opulent Time Warner Cable Data Center in Coudersport when its acquisition of TWC was completed last fall. The future of the center and its employees remains uncertain, but an exodus is underway.
Meanwhile, Causer pledged his support for continuation of the shale gas drilling “impact fee,” which has provided townships, boroughs and the county government with significant revenue that would otherwise have to be generated by the real estate tax.
A proposal before the state legislature would replace the impact fee with a statewide severance tax, with the lion’s share of the revenue going to the state rather than local governments. On another issue, Causer reiterated his support for the Rural Regional College (RRC) of Northern Pennsylvania. It will serve residents of Potter, Cameron, McKean, Elk, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Venango and Warren counties.
Enrollees will be able to participate in or near their home communities. Some students will be able to enroll for classes while they’re still in high school. A target date of Labor Day 2017 has been established for the opening.
A critical element of the plan is establishment of satellite locations -- such as the Potter County Education Center in Coudersport -- where students can take classes through an internet connection. Much of the discussion focused on the 2017-18 fiscal year budget proposal introduced by Governor Tom Wolf this week and the significant issues that state lawmakers must address to achieve upwards of $3 billion in spending cuts or revenue generation to balance the $32.3 billion spending plan.
The commissioners urged Rep. Causer to push for adequate state funding for the myriad of human services programs that county governments are mandated to provide.
An indiscriminate 10- percent cut in state funds several years ago has continued to burden county taxpayers and all signs point to an increasing demand for services in the coming years.