Bellefonte Borough Council honors student member

Jane Li
Jane Li Photo provided

Jane Li didn’t join the Bellefonte Borough Council for recognition, but that’s what she got Monday.

The council, at its first meeting of 2015, presented Li with the Distinguished Junior Council Person award through the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs for her contributions.

“This really means a lot,” Li said. “This has already been such a great experience, and it’s good to know that they thought so highly of me, so I feel really honored by this.”

Li, a non-voting member of the council, joined in September 2013 at the recommendation of Bellefonte Area High School Social Studies Department Chairman Ed Fitzgerald. Li was a junior when she was sworn in and will graduate in June.

“She’s a natural fit to be a part of that program to get high school students active with local governments,” Fitzgerald said. “She’s organized, intellectual and able to process complex policies, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that she’s worked well with the council.”

The borough’s program to involve high school students in council was designed to give them real-world experience in local government, but it has benefited council, too, borough Assistant Manager Don Holderman said.

“We do this to give students exposure to local governments and to help create local leaders,” he said. “What we’ve found is that with Jane and other students before her is that they play an important role on council by giving us a different perspective on issues.”

Li’s recently submitted a social media policy rough draft for borough employees to follow.

“I wouldn’t say I’m an expert or anything like that, but it’s an overview to let them know what the most effective ways are to get information out on Twitter and Facebook and how to go about getting information out if there are any controversial issues they’re dealing with,” she said.

Holderman said the borough and council would continue to develop a new social media policy

“It’s a perfect example of what Jane has brought to the table,” he said. “We’d been thinking about having a social media policy and realized that’s something she’s probably more adept to than any of us. She did an outstanding job getting the ball rolling for us, so that we have a good social media policy to get info out and to give employees what is and isn’t appropriate to post online.”

In other business at Monday’s meeting, Councilman Joe Beigle announced that the Bellefonte Borough Authority approved two tax increases for 2015.

Those served by the authority will be charged $1 more per 1,000 gallons of water used, an increase of $15 to $18 per household per quarter. The increase will keep the Water Fund solvent. The authority also approved a $4 per year Sewer Fund increase, which will be used for capital improvement projects to the sewer plant. The authority can periodically change its charges.

Mayor Tom Wilson swore in part-time officer Luke Nelson to the police department.

Council approved the 2015 calendar, and meetings will continue to be held on the first and third Mondays of each month at 7:30 p.m.

Council held an executive session prior to the meeting to discuss real estate and personnel matters.