Will Your Local Property Tax Increase in 2024? Here’s a Look at What’s Proposed in Centre Region Municipalities
It’s budget season, and as local municipalities get ready to adopt fiscal plans for 2024, they also will be setting real estate tax rates for the new year.
Among the six Centre Region municipalities — State College Borough and College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris and Patton townships — two have tax increases in their proposed 2024 budget. At the county level, Centre County’s proposed 2024 budget includes no tax increase for the 14th consecutive year.
Here’s a look at proposed budgets and tax rates around the Centre Region. None have adopted a final budget yet.
State College Borough
Millage rate: 19.833
Budget: $86.7 million
After a 1.623 mills increase in 2023, State College’s proposed real estate tax rate remains unchanged for 2024. The budget also has no increase in sanitary sewer, refuse or parking rates.
The $86.72 million budget includes a general fund budget of $37.05 million, funded by $34.46 million in recurring revenues and $2.59 million from reserves.
Although the budget is not structurally balanced, an ongoing issue for the borough, “there are ample General Fund reserves to fund the budget without the need for tax increases in 2024,” largely due to American Rescue Plan Act funds received in 2021-22, Borough Manager Tom Fountaine wrote in a budget transmittal letter to council.
“It is important to recognize that long-term projections for pensions and capital projects reflect the need to close this funding gap over the next few years and bring the budget back into balance,” Fountaine wrote.
State College Borough Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4, with final adoption scheduled for the meeting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 18.
Millage rate: 6.100
Budget: $11.97 million
No tax increase is proposed in College Township’s budget for the third consecutive year, following incremental increases of .40 mills and .30 mills in 2020 and 2021.
The 2024 budget projects expenditures of $11.97 million and revenues of $10.2 million, with the difference coming from fund balance.
“The township is in significantly good enough financial condition that through the use of fund balances we’ll be able to address any shortfalls in revenue based on projected expenditures,” Township Manager Adam Brumbaugh said at council’s Nov. 16 meeting.
Brumbaugh noted that the 2024 budget uses about $55,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds after using $350,000 in 2022 and $250,000 in 2023.
College Township Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on the budget during its meeting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 21.
Millage rate: 2.422
Budget: $26.2 million
Ferguson Township has not had a property tax increase since 2006, and that will continue for another year under the proposed 2024 budget, which also has no fee increases.
The township’s proposed $26.2 million budget includes a general fund budget with $15.4 million in expenditures and $12.15 million in recurring revenue. Reserves fund the difference.
“Although this budget is not structurally balanced, there are ample fund reserves to fund the budget without fee increases or a tax increase,” Township Manager Centrice Martin wrote in a budget transmittal letter to the board of supervisors. “It is recognized that long-term projections reflect the need to close the funding gap over the next few years for future budgets to balance.”
The Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors is expected to hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at its meeting on Dec. 5.
Millage rate: 7.37
Budget: $2.1 million
After 1 mil decrease in 2023, Halfmoon Township’s proposed real estate tax rate remains unchanged for 2024.
The township’s overall budget includes a general fund budget of $1.2 million.
The Halfmoon Township Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2024 budget at its Dec. 14 meeting.
Millage Rate: 6.7
Change: 1.1 mills increase
Budget: $4.28 million
For the second consecutive year, property owners in Harris Township are expected to see a real estate tax increase.
Township staff “went to great lengths to minimize increases within the proposed 2024 budget,” including postponing several planned projects, shifting funding for some other projects from the general fund to the special projects fund and seeking operational efficiencies in the already lean township operations, Township Manager Mark Boeckel wrote in a memo to the board of supervisors.
“Despite staff’s efforts to reduce Township costs, the ability to continue providing the same volume and quality of services to the community cannot be accomplished without increasing revenue,” Boeckel wrote, noting that real estate growth and transfers are expected to continue to decline.
The township also continues to deal with the impacts of inflation, as well as the rising costs of providing high quality services both here and cooperatively with our municipal partners in the [Centre] Region,” Boeckel wrote.
The proposed budget includes another three-year renewal for the .5 mill special projects/capital tax included in the overall millage total, and a minor increase in the fire hydrant millage from .03 to .036 for property owners within 780 feet of a hydrant.
The township also plans to unassign $150,000 from the health insurance reserve fund and apply it to the general fund.
A public hearing and formal adoption is scheduled for the Harris Township Board of Supervisors’ Dec. 11 meeting.
Millage: 9.9 mills
Change: 0.4 mills increase
Budget: $16.37 million
Patton Township’s 2024 proposed budget includes a general real estate tax increase for the first time since 2012.
“This is due to several factors, including increased costs in regional services provided by the Centre Region COG and increased costs for the materials we use to provide services (including asphalt, salt and line painting),” Township Manager Amy Farkas wrote in an introduction to the budget.
The proposed budget includes $16.37 million in expenditures and $15.5 million in revenues, with reserves funding the difference.
A public hearing and final adoption of the 2024 budget is scheduled for the Patton Township Board of Supervisors’ Dec. 13 meeting.