FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2015
Borough Launches Budget Information Center, Lunch & Learns
State College, PA
–Preparation of the State College Budget begins long before it is adopted each December. In an effort to get input early on in the 2016 Budget development process, State College has launched a Budget Information Center on its website and an in-person outreach program with Lunch & Learn events. Those interested and invested in State College are encouraged to participate in upcoming events and/or to submit suggestions and questions online at the Borough’s Budget Information Center, which can be accessed at http://www.statecollegepa.us/budgetinfo
Lunch and Learn sessions for the public will take place every Friday at 12:00 p.m., beginning October 2 and continuing through October 16. These events will be held in Room 220 of the State College Municipal Building, 243 South Allen Street. The same information will be presented at each session. The public is also encouraged to attend the transmittal of the 2016 Operating Budget to Borough Council on October 23, at 12:00 p.m.
The 2016 Budget Suggestion Box initiative provides a forum to offer suggestions on how State College can save money and/or improve services. Suggestions, questions and ideas will be reviewed and considered for the 2016 Budget, and responses will be provided and shared.
State College adopted a budget in 2015 with no major new programs, and, despite the elimination of a number of staff positions, including two police officers, a police records clerk and 1.5 positions in the Financial Services Division, expenditures exceeded revenue resulting in a deficit. This required the use of fund balance and additional tax revenue to balance the budget. Therefore, the 2015 Budget passed with a 3.36 mill Real Estate Tax increase, an increase to the Realty Transfer Tax of 0.25%, the use of $811,523 of unreserved fund balance and $225,000 of fund balance from the Insurance Reserve Fund.
In recent years, State College has used one-time sources of revenue, including debt refinancing savings and fund balance, several times to balance the General Fund Budget. Like most other urban core communities in Pennsylvania, State College possesses a limited number of options for generating revenue. Some of the major sources of revenue for general government operations include Real Estate, Earned Income, Local Services and Realty Transfer taxes, which comprise 54% of General Fund revenue in 2015. The 2015 Budget reflects a continued stagnate revenue base with both property and earned income tax bases projected to continue to grow at a rate less than inflation in upcoming years.
Municipalities like State College would benefit from additional flexibility in creating revenue opportunities in their communities. Borough officials are working with state legislators to obtain support for much needed revenue-generating opportunities. Additionally, the Borough will be evaluating the program and services provided to identify meaningful and sustainable reductions in expenditures to balance future budgets. About the Lunch and Learn sessions:
Brown Bag Lunch & Learn events provide an opportunity to learn more about the State College Budget and 2016 Budget process. The sessions will cover some Government Accounting basics about Fund Accounting and how revenues and expenditures are tracked within Funds. The presenters will also share some long-term trends related to the Borough revenues and expenditures including; where the Borough revenues come from and how much of each make up the budget, how Real Estate Taxes are calculated, the long-term trends for Real Estate, Earned Income and Realty Transfer Taxes, and other revenues. Trend graphs related to Borough Expenditures and how the General Fund budget breaks down will also be provided. Finally, the presenters will answer questions and share some ways that you can get involved in the 2016 budget process because the Borough would like to hear your ideas about ways to generate additional revenue and create efficiencies that will save valuable dollars. The sessions will be facilitated and interactive, so questions and discussion are encouraged during the 40-minute formal presentation and will continue during the remaining 20 minutes of the session.
If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with representatives of the Borough of State College, please contact Roger Dunlap by phone at (814) 327-4745 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.