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Councilman Dan Murphy Explains Planned Vote To Raise State College Real Estate Tax

The State College Borough Council will meet Monday night for the last time this calendar year and is expected to vote on its 2019 operating budget, followed by an increase to real estate taxes. Because both items will likely pass, Councilman Dan Murphy attended a University Park Undergraduate Association meeting earlier this month to explain his decisions to vote for them to the student body, who make up a majority of his constituency.

“Because I believe that I am accountable to you all, before it got out in the newspaper, before you saw that a vote of mine impacted you and your future rent, I wanted to explain to you myself why I will be voting yes to pass a budget that would include a tax increase,” Murphy said.

Although most students don’t own property in the Borough, Murphy explained that property taxes will likely be passed on to renters by the landlords who do own the property by the 2020-2021 school year by way of increased rent rates.

“The reality is that you all pay property taxes through the rent that you pay your landlords, so don’t let anyone tell you different,” Murphy said. “It’s a big thing in the borough, people say students don’t pay taxes — you absolutely do. Your landlords pass along their property taxes to you through that process.”

The tax increase proposal includes three facets that Murphy outlined:

About $40,000 for the support of the Historic and Architectural Review Board (HARB)

Funding for the HARB would come from all neighborhoods as currently outlined in the 2019 operating budget, although its work only affects the Highlands, College Heights, and Holmes Foster neighborhoods. Murphy plans to propose removing this provision, although he anticipates the motion will fail.

About $70,000 for regional programs like parks, fire, recycling, compost, etc.

This includes increasing CATA funding from the borough, which keeps rider costs low, to align with increased service. It also includes an increase to the volunteer firefighter stipend, which council hopes will help the borough recruit and retain more volunteer firefighters.

About $70,000 for street tree maintenance

This hasn’t been funded for the last few years and Murphy emphasized it’s important for the safety, security, and walkability of the community.

Even though Murphy does not agree with funding for the HARB, he plans to vote to approve the 2019 operating budget as a whole. Borough Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday, December 17, in Council Chambers on the third floor of the municipal building.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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