State College, Pa- A recent poll by the Centre Daily Times showed that a majority of candidates running for State College Borough Council would be in favor of an alcohol tax in the borough.
But how close are we to seeing this tax put in place?
WTAJ investigated to see what the potential timeline looks like if the borough and/or Centre County decided to pass an alcohol tax.
Local governments do not have the ability to approve certain taxes, like an alcohol tax, unless the Pennsyvania State Legislature allows a municipality the freedom to approve more specific taxes.
Currently, the state has not signed-off on an alcohol tax… so it may be a few years before such a tax is seen in State College or Centre County.
“Whenever you look at an alcohol tax, we can’t do a pour tax, we can’t do a distributor tax… we can do any of the taxes that anyone is considering until the state legislator gives us the ability to,” said Douglas Shontz, Communications Specialist for State College Borough.
Why an alcohol tax?
The reason State College Borough is looking, maybe one day, to approve an alcohol tax is to help offset police force costs brought about by alcohol.
Borough data shows that 2/3 of crime is alcohol related.
Estimates done over two years ago showed that an alcohol tax could bring in about $3 million for the police force… which would help fund their $11 million budget.
Right now, there’s no timeline for when the state may allow State College or Centre County to approve the tax.
“Progress is incrimental… it’s something that is taking time… it’s not that they’re abrasive to it… the need for it is now expanding with more convenient stores beginning to sell alcohol,” Shontz said.
State College Borough says if they ever did put an alcohol tax in place, they would look at the possibility of working with other municipalities, and the county commissioners to have the tax approved for the entire county.
However, the Centre Daily Times’ survey showed that no candidate for Centre County Commissioner (who responded to the survey) said they would favor an alcohol tax.