State returns thousands of dollars in liquor licensing fees to Centre County municipalities

Eight Centre County municipalities received a total of $3,400 from liquor licensing fees returned by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

The PLCB announced Monday that it gave back $2.4 million to 1,453 municipalities statewide from the annual license renewal or validation fees paid between Feb. 1 and July 31 of this year for liquor licenses and permits issued for restaurants, clubs and beer distributors.

Amounts from $25 to $392,875 will go to the municipalities that have the licensees.

According to PLCB spokeswoman Stacy Kriederman, the PLCB keeps a flat $100 for administrative costs from licenses that range from $125 to $700 depending on the type of the license and population of the municipality where the licensee is located.

Then, twice a year, the PLCB returns the rest of the fees as mandated by the state Liquor Code. In all, 56 cities, 566 boroughs and 831 townships collected funds.

Locally, State College received the largest sum, $1,200. Other recipients were: Bellefonte, $400; College Township, $800; Miles Township, $100; Patton Township, $300; Philipsburg, $200; Spring Township, $200; and Walker Township, $200.

“The money can be used by municipal officials to pay for much-needed local projects,” said PLCB Chairman Joseph E. “Skip” Brion in a news release.

During the 2013-14 fiscal year, the PLCB said, it returned $4.52 million of licensing fees to municipalities.

Roger Dunlap, assistant borough manager in State College, said the recent windfall, officially called “state-shared funds,” go into the borough’s general fund, to be used wherever needed.

That could be community initiatives such as the Neighborhood Enforcement Alcohol Team program, known as NEAT, which since 2010 has assigned two police officers to the Penn State student-filled Highlands neighborhood on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to curtail nuisance crimes tied to drinking.

“Philosophically, we certainly support the direction of the state to embrace (the returns) and be able to help us with the enforcement of some of the negative outcomes of alcohol,” Dunlap said. “That would certainly help.”

Realistically, though, $1,200 amounts to a drop in the bucket for an annual police budget of $9.9 million and an overall borough budget of $23.3 million.

Dunlap admits the licensing fee funds are “just not going to go very far,” but he’s not complaining about some extra cash. “Every little bit helps,” he said.