State College Borough Passes 2021 Budget, Creates Groups For Oversight And Mental Health Support
The State College Borough Council passed its 2021 budget Monday night. The budget will fund the creation of two community-based groups to address issues stemming from the 2019 police killing of Osaze Osagie.
In a 4 to 3 vote, the Council approved a budget of more than $69 million in expenses and $59 million in revenue. With a nearly $10 million projected shortfall, the borough will leave six currently vacant positions unfunded in the new year, including two police officers.
The Council revised the budget last week to include funding for a Civilian Response Team within the police department, which will hire social workers to respond to mental health related calls and a community oversight board to review and investigate complaints about the State College Police Department.
The 3/20 Coalition, an advocacy group that formed after Osagie’s death, had asked for a $2 million cut to the police department’s budget. Instead this year’s budget is slightly higher than last year’s.
Councilwoman Theresa Lafer voted for the revised budget and said it's not "a perfect budget."
“It’s an unbalanced budget and we will have to deal with it, maybe more than once," she said. "But it is a functional budget.”
Lafer said defunding the police department doesn’t fix any problems and the budget’s goal should be keeping as many services as possible next year.
Correction: The Council voted 4 to 3 to approve the budget, after Councilwoman Deanna Behring changed her vote. The story previously stated it was 5 to 2.