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New Budget Proposal Includes Increase in Property Taxes

by on November 11, 2014 6:40 AM

State College residents could see an increase in property taxes next year as the result of the borough’s proposed operating budget for 2015.

The proposed tax increase was revealed during budget talks during Monday’s borough council meeting.

With the borough expected to finish the current year about $1.65 million in debt, the real estate taxes could bring the borough out of the red a few years down the road.

“There is a proposed tax increase to help begin to close that gap,” borough manager Tom Fountaine said. “Over a period of a couple of years, probably a two to three year period, the goal would be to close the gap completely so that expenditures and revenues are in balance again.”

The tax increase is expected to be $3.36 million with an expected revenue of $1,523,273. If all goes as planned, the proposed deficit at the end of 2015 would be $811,523, less than this year’s projected ending deficit of $1,664,211. 

It would also continue the trend of the borough finishing the year in debt, as it would be the third straight year it has been in the red.

The projected totals were a part of a presentation given by borough assistant manager Roger Dunlap, who described the upcoming budget as “challenging.”

Other highlights of the proposal included the expected increase in personnel costs for the upcoming year. 

During his presentation, Dunlap said the pension budget will increase by 63 percent, leading to an overall increase in personnel costs of 69 percent. At the same time, staffing in the borough could go down by 4.5 full-time employees.

“Overall there is very little increasing,” Fountaine said. “There’s really no major proposals, no major new programs. Right now we’re anticipating that the [expected] budget will perform better than the [current] budget.”

Apart from the budget proposal, the majority of the Monday's meeting was spent discussing a report on future parking supply and demand in State College given by Jeff Colvin of Walker Parking Consultants.

Colvin’s report included three phases, the supply and demand of parking, an appraisal of current parking facilities and a review of parking management strategies.

According to Colvin, by 2017 State College will have 89 percent of parking spaces occupied during weekdays but also a deficit of 1,000 spots during the weekends. By 2019, 95 percent of weekday parking could be occupied with more than 1,200 vehicles needing parking on weekends. 

Although the calculations were based on the number the of parking spots currently occupied during the week and weekends, multiple council members expressed uneasiness with the idea of adding parking lots in the near future.

Both Thomas Daubert and Peter Morris said while they don’t doubt Colvin’s calculations, any increased parking would most likely be needed in neighborhoods rather than downtown. Daubert also reminded Colvin that public parking is not allowed in State College developments.

“If we’re saying that the number of people is not going to change that much, then these people, they don’t require more public parking. They require parking within the developments,” Daubert said. “Where is this public parking demand going to be?” 

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Matt Allibone is a StateCollege.com intern. He's a Penn State senior, studying print journalism. Matt is a native of Delran, N.J.
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