State College Borough Council welcomes new members

mcarroll@centredaily.comJanuary 6, 2014 

— Two new members joined Borough Council on Monday, but the familiar faces don’t expect to struggle with the learning curve.

Theresa Lafer and Evan Myers, the council’s newest members, were sworn in Monday at a reorganization meeting.

Neither is a stranger to borough politics. Lafer had a stint on the council, and Myers had been serving on the borough Planning Commission.

“It’s a fairly steep learning curve,” Lafer said after the meeting.

But with five incumbent members, her own council experience and Myers’ knowledge from his time on the Planning Commission, Lafer said the entire group should be ready from the get-go.

“I think we have a very prepared council,” she said.

Myers, Lafer and Mayor Elizabeth Goreham and Councilman Tom Daubert, who won re-election in the general election, were sworn in Monday by District Judge Carmine Prestia.

The next order of business was electing Councilman Jim Rosenberger to his first stint as president.

Rosenberger, who is serving in his second term on council, was instrumental in the borough’s last-minute decision to avoid a tax increase in its 2014 budget.

“I think it was the right thing to do, especially with a likely school-tax increase, ” he said after the meeting Monday. “I think we had adequate reserves, and I think honestly we can probably run this place a little more efficiently if we are careful about costs.”

Rosenberger said he will work this year to establish a good rapport with borough staff and will continue to push for strong regional cooperation.

“We are a tiny borough in the midst of the five municipalities around us,” he said. “I think it’s key that we work closely together.”

Rosenberger, who was first elected to the council in 2007, replaces Don Hahn as president. Hahn and fellow outgoing councilman Ron Filippelli did not seek re-election in 2013 and officially parted ways with the panel Monday.

“Both have been really valuable on council,” Rosenberger said. “Don brings a wonderful view of all these issues from a legal point of view. Ron came with lots of experience in administration and he was always a good spokesperson for wise decisions.”

Lafer and Myers, who will replace the longtime members, said they are ready to get to work.

Myers said he would like to involve the public more in Borough Council meetings, potentially taking meetings into various neighborhoods. He anticipates tackling growth and tax issues in his first year on the panel.

“I’m ready to go,” he said.

Lafer said she wants to address housing issues in the borough.

“I look forward to working on ... particularly affordable housing, on expanding the options and opportunities for young professionals and graduates who want to stay here, on working with various community groups ... to make this as lovely a place to live as it has been,” she said.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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