At Monday night’s meeting, the State College Borough Council made progress on the 2013 budget, making it one step closer to being passed.
The public had a chance to speak on the state of the budget, but no comments or questions were addressed, ending the public hearing.
Chief of Police Tom King presented the police report to the council and called for support of a 65-person staff.
The police budget was $425,000 higher than last year’s, and $390,000 of that is salary and benefits, but King said most items remained similar to last year, with the same programs with a high level of review.
Council also passed the 2013 meeting schedule, but included some minor changes.
Council member Jim Rosenberger made a suggestion to make all Monday evening work sessions in 2013 that would begin at 6:30 p.m. to be moved an hour later to 7:30 p.m.
Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said that all 6:30 p.m. meetings in 2012 were moved times to compensate for the canceled Friday meetings, but most council members did not have an issue with moving the meetings times and a vote to move them was passed unanimously.
The rest of the schedule was passed, but in question of keeping of the April 1 meeting in respect to the Passover holiday, the meeting will still be held because there would be limited meetings between March and April if canceled.
Planning Director Carl Hess addressed the sections of ordinance and enforcement, planning and redevelopment of the budget.
He said the zoning and code laws have been amended more than 200 times in the past few years, but was hopeful that 2013 will begin a phase to prepare a document about a comprehensive zoning plan to help with a clean slate of zoning laws.
Fountaine also addressed updates on the zoning and noise ordinance codes, and more meetings will be held in the upcoming weeks, first with Penn State students and off-campus living and other with property owners and realtors.
As a result of the high level of interest, Fountaine suggested to put that back on the Council agenda for January, after results of the meetings be made available.
Council President Don Hahn said that all voices should be heard in the matter on the updated zoning codes.
Hess called for more citizen engagement through Facebook, Twitter and Engage State College, especially for the developing downtown master plan and overall neighborhood planning.
For Bellaire Court Apartments, he said the numbers for the project make up the largest increase in the budget, but will look to improve the quality of the buildings and the aging systems within them.
Hess said there are few changes in the redevelopment section, but will look forward to helping economic opportunities in the community.
With new developments in housing and jobs in the borough of State College, Mayor Elizabeth Goreham hopes that recent Penn State graduates will stay in the State College area.
The sink hole that is affecting the borough and areas by State College Area High School will be no more, as Council also unanimously approved the Memorial Field drainage system agreement.
Council will continue to discuss the budget today and Monday, Dec. 10’s meetings and plans to finalize the vote on Dec. 17.