Bellefonte Borough Council hears about need for funding, community needs from CBICC, library

Money talks.

Or at least the talk of the town was money at a Borough Council work session Monday.

Representatives from two county organizations made presentations to council during the work sessions to explain why they could use some financial support.

Council also heard from Lori Walker, the borough’s financial director, who said the town operated on about a $13 million budget this year.

Vern Squier, the president and CEO of the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County, said monetary investments from the borough and surrounding municipalities for 2015 is a minor piece of the discussions he’s having with several local governments.

“We have 38 units of government in the county, and if you just look at the more populous areas, Centre Region, which is more State College, there are a handful of townships there, and Bellefonte is in that mix,” Squier said. “We’re just saying that we need to work together, and sometimes that comes through money. Sometimes that comes through staff time. Sometimes that’s political lifting where we all need to get behind an issue together. They all mix together.”

Squier said the borough has not previously invested money into the chamber, but has provided data to it and collaborated with it.

Lisa Erickson, the Centre County Library director, presented a case for the council to at least “hold the line” on its monetary donations to the library.

The council donated $27,250 to the library in 2013, but lowered its contribution this year by 10 percent to $24,525.

Erickson said 67 percent of Bellefonte residents have an active library card, which means it would have been used at least once in the last two years. She also said 36 percent of the circulation in the library is from non-Bellefonte residents.

“You have helped us, and I believe we have helped you, too,” Erickson said. “We’ve received grants to bring fiber optic lines to Bellefonte, which has increased the borough’s bandwidth. We’ve generated revenue in the downtown area from people that might not have come here if not for the library. We always recommend people to the local businesses here.”

Frank Halderman, the council president, said budget decisions are never easy.

“It’s fairly tough,” Halderman said. “We’re landlocked. We don’t have new developments where we can put new taxes in, so it’s always a challenge to work on minimal income. It’s always hard, and it gets harder every year.”