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Borough Council Quietly Passes Balanced 2016 Operating Budget

by on December 21, 2015 8:10 PM
State College, PA

The State College Borough Council nearly avoided any contention at all when voting on the 2016 operating budget at its Monday night meeting.

If not for one issue raised by council president Jim Rosenberger involving the delay of the federal Cadillac tax, the council easily passed a budget that was predated by weeks of discussion and debate to reach Monday's smooth finish. 

The final 2016 operating budget, which was voted in unanimously, includes an excess of revenues over expenditures of $308, with revenues of $25,193,679 and expenditures of $25,193,371.

When taking into consideration inter-fund transfers -- which includes expenditures like funds that have been set aside in previous years for capital projects -- the revenues for all funds total $39,545,123 while expenditures total $42,169,575. 

The one minor argument arose when Rosenberger offered an amendment that would decrease the millage rate increase from the proposed two mills to just 1.5 mills, taking into account that since the last council meeting, the federal Cadillac tax on employer-sponsored health coverage has been delayed. In other words, Rosenberger was asking for a smaller raise in the real estate tax while setting aside the money that would go toward the sizable 40 percent health care tax that's a part of the Affordable Care Act -- or Obamacare.

Rosenberger's colleagues on the council weren't exactly thrilled about the idea of undoing weeks upon weeks of effort that went into formulating a budget that is balanced within a few hundred dollars. Councilman Peter Morris said that if Yogi Berra were in attendance at the meeting, he'd utter his famous saying that it's "déjà vu all over again."

"After our last meeting, everyone was feeling good because we had a deal. And so you come in here and screw the pooch and mess up our deal," Morris said, offering a smile but also seeming to be genuinely peeved. 

"It’s a bad idea, just as it was a couple of weeks ago. With the two mill increase, we have a clean, balanced budget," Morris added. "That’s the sound way to run a borough. Why would we continue a record of doing unsound things to the borough financial system? I don’t understand."

The rest of council sided with Morris, as Rosenberger was left as the lone council member voting in favor of the proposed amendment before the actual budget passed unanimously and unchanged.

The other notable vote came on a number of proposed ordinance amendments that would lower the fine amounts for certain violations. The open container fine would be $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second, and $1,000 thereafter. The public urination/defecation fine would be $750 for a first offense and $1,000 thereafter. Lastly, the noise violation would cost $750 for a first offense and $1,000 thereafter.

This passed unanimously, but came with some hesitation on the part of Morris.

"I think the fines are still too high, but I’ll vote for this because we need to pass a budget," he said.



Zach Berger is the managing editor of StateCollege.com. He graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in print journalism. Zach enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from football to government, music, and everything in between.
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