STATE COLLEGE Likely a highlight for borough residents in this year’s budget discussion is a proposed 1.5-mill property tax increase.
That totals approximately $600,000, as a mill in the borough runs about $400,000. Assistant Manager Roger Dunlap, who presented on Friday highlights from the 2014 document ahead of formal reviews by Borough Council, hasn’t yet calculated how that increase will affect the average property owner.
Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said during the Friday work session that taxes were last increased 0.5 mills in 2009.
Dunlap cited two reasons for the increase.
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“Even though it was projected to be better than budget, our revenues still don’t meet the requirement of expenditures,” he said. “It’s the first time in a number of years where our actual budget performance wasn’t positive.”
The second reason, he said, is that the gap between revenues and expenditures is anticipated to keep growing.
Fountaine said the increase also will help pay for three police officer positions for the borough. Police Chief Tom King has said recently that he will request funding for five more officers, to give the department a full complement of 65.
Two of the five council members present Friday made initial comments on the increase. The budget will be discussed in more detail in the coming weeks, starting Nov. 18.
“After four years of no tax increases, I think we have to be reconciled to the fact that there should be a tax increase this year, especially with parks capital coming on,” said council President Don Hahn, referring to the debt taken on by the Centre Region to begin construction on two of three new regional parks.
Hahn said that while tax increases don’t require unanimous approval by council, he’d like to see a more positive vote than 4-3 when the time comes.
Councilman Jim Rosenberger said he thinks it’s useful to consider the past five years of growth in assessed property values in the borough.
Fountain said “it’s been very, very small,” at less than 1 percent growth over the previous five years and for years before.