State College’s Borough Council met last night for a final review of next year’s budget.
The council is poised to adopt a property tax increase of 3.36 mill, which is almost 30% more than the current 11.04 mill. In addition, the proposed budget indicates a 0.25% increase in real estate transfer tax.
During a work session, borough manager Tom Fountaine presented alternative recommendations to the council for how to cut expenditures to narrow the budget gap. Suggestions included cutting First Night and Fourth Fest funding, canceling the Homestead Investment Program, and eliminating a grant to the State Theater.
But the majority of the council was in agreement to keep the proposed budget—and the tax increases—as is.
Borough council president Jim Rosenberger said, “We’ve discussed possible cuts, but the community loves the services that they provide and largely the people we’ve heard from are willing to pay."
"But," added Rosenberger, "I think the council needs to look carefully at the cost of these services and make sure that we provide them as efficiently as possible, even if we pass this tax increase next week.”
Council member Evan Myers suggested planning for a longer budget evaluation period next year, instead of putting off the decision-making to the eleventh hour.
State College mayor Elizabeth Goreham agreed, advocating for "a continued discussion throughout the year to create a greater understanding and insight into what is being proposed."
But barring any last-minute surprises, Goreham said the council is likely to pass the proposed budget without changes. The council will vote to finalize next year’s budget next Monday.
Editor's note: We've updated the original links to the proposed budget to reflect a correction made by the borough.