State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

State College Council to Consider Registration for 'Football-Rental' Houses

on January 10, 2012 7:38 AM

State College Borough Council will soon discuss whether to require registration of so-called "football-rental" homes, council members agreed Monday night.

It appears that a growing number of borough homeowners, using online outlets and word of mouth, make their houses available for rent on Penn State home-football weekends, municipal leaders have said.

While the apparent trend does not seem to pose any imminent safety hazards, council members should consider mandating football-rental registration for potential tax purposes, according to a report presented Monday.

That report was compiled by former Assistant Borough Manager Tom Kurtz. Speaking before council Monday, he said registration rosters would prove useful if the football rentals ever face tax implications related to the municipal homestead exclusion or the county hotel tax.

The borough homestead-exclusion provision grants some property-tax relief to those who maintain owner-occupied dwellings within borough limits. The Centre County hotel tax applies to operations that provide paid accommodations.

"The purpose of (football-rental) registration ... from my point of view, (is) so that we could a establish a record for that tax-equity issue," Kurtz said.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said football-rental registration could cost homeowners somewhere between $100 and $200. Failure to register a football rental could yield fines of as much as $300 for each day of unregistered rental use, he said.

Council members voted 5-2 to take up discussion of the issue soon. Jim Rosenberger and Ron Filippelli dissented.

Council member Cathy Dauler said she heard informally that some residential tenants have been forced from their homes on football weekends as landlords rent to football tourists at inflated prices. Fountaine said the borough government has heard similar rumblings, but no formal complaints along those lines.

Among other business Monday night:

  • The borough Parking Department is working with the Penn State Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon to bolster THON fundraising in downtown State College, parking Manager Charles DeBow said.

Inspired by a public philanthropic campaign in Denver, he said, he has suggested that the borough place a half-dozen specialized parking meters outside businesses and elsewhere in the downtown.

The meters would not be used for regulating parking; rather, DeBow said, they would serve as collection points for pocket change to benefit THON, which fights pediatric cancer.

Council members appeared supportive of the idea. DeBow said the meters should materialize within months. Local children who benefit from THON will paint the meters in February; the devices should appear in to-be-determined locations shortly thereafter, he said.

Any businesses that would like to help may contact DeBow directly, he said.

"We're very excited to work with the community on this issue," said THON Overall Chairwoman Elaine Tanella.

  • The council heard a presentation on tentative plans for a Memorial Field overhaul. Anticipated improvements at the field, owned by the State College Area School District, would include a new bathroom-and-ticketing facility at its northwest corner. Because of space restrictions at the site, the structure would need to reach into standard setbacks required under borough zoning, project planners said.

The school district will go before the borough Zoning Hearing Board to request a setback waiver, project planners said. Council members did not appear to object.

  • Borough resident Ron Madrid, a 16-year borough resident and a Planning Commission member, charged that the council and Mayor Elizabeth Goreham acted inappropriately in handling two commission seats lately.

Two volunteer Planning Commission members who requested reappointment -- Cindy Carpenter and Charles Gable -- not only were denied said reappointment; they discovered the news by hearing it via C-NET, Madrid said.

He said he was speaking as a borough resident, not as a borough planning commissioner.

"They were not provided an opportunity to ask questions," Madrid said. ... "Why would anyone serve if they will ultimately be treated so poorly?"

He said Goreham and Filippelli -- who was council president until this month -- owe Carpenter and Gable an apology.

Interviewed later, Filippelli said he takes responsibility for the matter.

"I have to look into it. I'm not sure what happened," he said.

He assumed that non-reappointment notifications would have been handled by someone else, but he may have been wrong, Filippelli said. If an error was made, he went on, he will issue an apology.

As to the commission seats themselves, he said Carpenter and Gable served the borough excellently. Their lack of reappointment reflects only the council's ongoing desire for regular turnover in the commission seats, which are in high demand, Filippelli said.

  • Council members unanimously approved a resolution in honor of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Council member Peter Morris introduced the resolution. Monday will mark the federal holiday that honors King.
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