Patton Township budget shows no tax increase, board considers various contributions

Officials are looking at a small increase in the tax base next year and no need for a property tax increase in the proposed 2014 budget.

The Board of Supervisors gave the budget initial approval Wednesday night. A public hearing and work session will take place Wednesday, and the board could adopt a final budget Dec. 11.

As proposed, the township tax rate remains at 8.9 mills.

According to township projections, there are no increases expected for at least the next several years.

Finance Director Kim Wyatt presented the approximately $11 million budget, starting with 2013 township accomplishments, like master planning for the Grays Woods Park, forming a township safety committee and continuing the Waddle Road interchange project.

Some key changes anticipated next year concern the Waddle Road project, which would increase traffic capacity on the bridge, and employee benefits.

Patton began the Waddle Road work in late 2011, and 2013 spending on the project is running lower than budgeted. Next year’s budget includes just more than $2 million for the work. Future development in Toftrees, which can go forward with completion of the project, will help the township recoup half the funds it spends.

In line with the current collective bargaining agreement, police will receive a 2.5 percent pay raise. Non-uniform employees will receive a 1.25 percent merit increase.

Wyatt showed the township’s Centre Region Council of Governments costs, which have increased 52 percent over seven years and represent 15 percent of next year’s budget.

Related to that, the board discussed the potential for changing to half-time regional planning services, due to a development slowdown and township planner vacancy.

The budget includes the cost of a full-time planner, and the township would have to give a year’s notice of the change, making it potentially effective in 2015.

Supervisor Jeff Luck said there’s “some value in re-evaluating.”

“I would support leaving the planning options to the region,” he said. “There’s already a management structure. There’s tremendous value in the interconnectivity of the planners.”

Centre Regional Planning Agency Director Jim May told the board Wednesday that a change would affect all the municipalities because of the local share distribution.

The board also discussed, and will decide on before final budget adoption, fulfilling requested contributions to Ferguson Township’s S&A Field lighting project and the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County’s regional economic development initiatives.

Ferguson Assistant Manager Dave Pribulka discussed with the board the S&A project, for which Ferguson is requesting $10,000. The lighting at the baseball fields, where the State College Teener League plays, will provide safety and attraction of tournaments.

Pribulka said State College and Ferguson will contribute, Harris and Halfmoon townships declined, and College Township hasn’t yet discussed the issue.

Supervisor Walt Wise said it “wasn’t much money” to improve a place where township residents play. Luck said he also didn’t object, but wants to know that other players can use the fields.

Supervisors had a similar hesitation related to the CBICC request, wanting to know first how the money will be spent. Patton has pledged, but not released, $15,000 so far. Other municipalities have done the same.

“It’s more of that slippery slope,” said Supervisor Josh Troxell. “It’s $15,000 this year, but we’re not seeing results so now we want to increase that. That’s not to say that I don’t trust the chamber. It’s just the unknown nature of it that gives me cause for concern and to ask questions about it.”

Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter.