BELLEFONTE - Borough Council last night approved a draft of its 2012 budget, setting the stage for adoption at its next meeting.
Borough property owners are looking at a tax increase of 1.53 mills to pay for the increased cost of local government.
Borough Manager Ralph Stewart told council the reason for the increase is due to the lack of growth in Bellefonte. The tax base in the borough has actually decreased through the last 10 years.
Meanwhile, the cost of employee health insurance and pensions - both uniformed and non-uniformed - has increased, quite dramatically, he said.
Included in the budget are some large ticket items, including a dump truck, a lease payment for a street sweeper, a bucket truck and a used police car.
Councilman Walt Schneider disagreed with the purchase of a used police car.
"We are just buying someone else's problem," said Schneider. He supported paying more to buy a new car for the police force.
The borough will also look into implementing a capital budgeting plan for 2013. This will allow the borough to assess the need for any investment, the cost and effect of completed projects - good or bad - on the budget.
And it will give council more ability to see what the borough needs and examine the best way to execute any large capital expenses that strap the budget each year, Stewart said.
One large cost increase will come next week.
Jerry Sandusky's preliminary hearing will be held in Bellefonte on Tuesday, Dec. 13, and the borough is prepping for increased traffic.
Police Chief Shawn Weaver said some streets will be closed before and during the hearing.
Allegheny Street will be closed from Howard to Bishop Street. High Street will be closed from Spring to Allegheny. The "T" will be close from 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 and will open back up on Dec. 14 at midnight.
Weaver also spoke about increased police presence for the hearing.
"We have to be prepared for any incident of the unknown," Weaver said. "We must be ready for anything that could go wrong."
Council President Frank Halderman said council "has utmost confidence in the police force."
In other business, council heard from the Clearwater Conservatory about its projects in the Spring Creek Watershed.
Council also approved the American Auxiliary's use of Talleyrand Park for an Easter Egg Hunt on April 1 at 1 p.m.
Mayor Stanley Goldman invited residents of the borough to attend the 30th Annual Victorian Christmas that will be begin this Friday at 6:30 p.m. and continue through Sunday.
With that, residents are reminded that during the holiday season, the first two hours of parking in the borough are free.