Alcohol Tax could, at some point, come to State College and Centre Co… locals have mixed reaction

Local News

State College, Pa- Those looking to get a drink in Centre County, specifically State College, may be paying a little extra green in the future.

A recent poll conducted by the State College Coalition of Neighborhood Associations showed a majority of candidates running for State College Borough Council would support an alcohol related tax.

WTAJ researched more about alcohol taxes in Pennsylvania and spoke with Penn State students, State College residents, and State College businesses (that serve alcohol) to create the report below.

Current Alcohol Taxes in PA

Only two places in PA currently have an alcohol tax:

-Philadelphia which has a 10% tax

-Allegheny County (includes the city of Pittsburgh) which has a 7% tax

Reaction from Centre County

Whether you take your drink shaken or stirred, prices could be rising on alcoholic beverages.

Students at PSU, when first asked about the tax, said it would bring an added financial burden.

“I feel like taxing alcohol on college kids that are already broke and looking for jobs is a little cruel,” said Mayra Oyola a PSU Senior.

But State College Borough says they’re not looking to be cruel… they just want a practical way to fund their police department’s $11 million budget. Many in the borough say an alcohol tax makes sense… considering 2/3 of reported crimes are alcohol related.

When PSU students heard this statistic, they understood why there may be a need for the tax… but they didn’t want it to be excessive.

“If it makes sense and it correlates with the amount it cost them…with the alcohol related criminal related offenses there are, then it would make sense depending on how much they make the tax,” Oyola said.

Cliff Kanz, from State College, was in favor of the tax. He said alcohol is something people choose to buy, and its negative consequences can have an impact on everyone.

“It does affect everybody because even if somebody doesn’t drink, they’re going to be affected by somebody drinking and that involves the police or fire… and so they do need to have funds to take care of those situations,” Kanz said.

Local bars WTAJ reached out to, including Hotel State College & Co., which owns multiple restaurants that serve alcohol in Downtown State College, said they would not be a fan of the tax.

The establishments expressed understanding that the tax may be a “necessary evil” to help provide funds for local police. They did push for a responsible percentage tax for poured drinks, and only offered support for the tax if it was county-wide… not just for poured beverages, but for distributors as well.

This way customers would not have incentive to go outside of the taxed municipality (or to a distributor) to purchase alcohol.

Currently, an alcohol tax cannot legally be approved in the county.

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