COG BUDGET PROGRAM PREFACE
 
 

 

 Table of Contents

 
Chapter 1 Participating Municipalities / COG Service Area
Chapter 2 COG Agency Contact List
Chapter 3 Executive Director Letter
Chapter 4 COG Overview
Chapter 5 Administration Budget
Chapter 6 COG Contingency Fund Budget
Chapter 7 COG Building Capital Budget
Chapter 8 COG Insurance Reserve Budget
Chapter 9 COG Unemployment Fund Budget
Chapter 10 Emergency Management - Operating Budget
Chapter 11 Emergency Management - Contingency Fund Budget
Chapter 12 Code Administration - Overall Budget
Chapter 13 Code Administration - New Construction Budget
Chapter 14 Code Administration - Existing Structures Budget
Chapter 15 Code Administration - Capital Budget
Chapter 16 Schlow Centre Region Library - Operating Budget
Chapter 17 Schlow Centre Region Library - Capital Budget
Chapter 18 Centre Regional Planning - Budget
Chapter 19 Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization - Budget
Chapter 20 Regional Refuse and Recycling Program - Budget
Chapter 21 Regional Fire Protection Program - Operating Budget
Chapter 22 Regional Fire Protection Program - Capital Budget
Chapter 23 Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Operating Budget
Chapter 24 Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Capital Equipment Budget
Chapter 25 Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Aquatics Operating Budget
Chapter 26 Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Aquatics Capital Budget
Chapter 27 Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Active Adult Center Budget
Chapter 28  Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Millbrook Marsh Nature Center (MMNC) - Operating Budget
Chapter 29 Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Millbrook Marsh Nature Center (MMNC) - Capital Budget
Chapter 30 Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Regional Parks - Capital Budget



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 Chapter 1 - Participating Municipalities / COG Service Area

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 Chapter 2 - COG Agency Contact List

 

 

 ADMINISTRATION
 2643 Gateway Drive, Suite 3
 814.231.3077
 
 Eric Norenberg

 Executive Director
 enorenberg@crcog.net

 Scott Binkley

 Office Manager
 sbinkley@crcog.net

 Rebecca Petitt
 Human Resources Officer
 rpetitt@crcog.net

 Kymberly Webb
 Human Resources Administrator  
 kwebb@crcog.net

 VACANT 
 Facilities Project Manager
 @crcog.net

 Kimberlee MacMullan
 Finance Director
 kmacmullan@crcog.net

 Cary Asendorf
 Finance Administrator
 casendorf@crcog.net

 Vanessa Muna
 Finance Assistant
 vmuna@crcog.net

 

 CODE ADMINISTRATION
 
2643 Gateway Drive, Suite 1
 814.231.3056
 
 Walt Schneider
 Director
 wgms@crcog.net

 Tammy Strouse
 Office Manager

 tes@crcog.net

 

 EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT     
 400 West Beaver Avenue
 814.235.7838
 
 Shawn Kauffman
 Emergency Management Coordinator
 skauffman@centreregionema.com

 Carolyn Irvin
 EMA/Fire Protection Program
 Office Manager
 cirvin@centreregionfire.com

 

 FIRE PROTECTION
 400 West Beaver Avenue
 814.237.4127
 
 Shawn Kauffman

 Fire Director     
 
skauffman@centreregionfire.com

 

 PARKS AND RECREATION
 2040 Sandy Drive, Suite A
 814.231.3071
 
 Kristy Owens

 Director
 kowens@crcog.net

 Jada Light
 Office Manager
 jlight@crcog.net

 

 PLANNING
 2643 Gateway Drive, Suite 4    
 814.231.3050

 
 Michael Tylka

 Director
mtylka@crcog.net

 James Saylor
 Principal Transportation Planner
 jsaylor@crcog.net


 (vacant)
 Office Manager
 officemanager@crcog.net

 

 REFUSE & RECYCLING
 PROGRAM    

 2643 Gateway Drive, Suite 4
 814.234.7198
 
 Shelly Mato

 Administrator
 smato@crcog.net

 

 SCHLOW LIBRARY
 211 South Allen Street
 814.235.7814
 
 Lisa Rives Collens
 
Director
 lcollens@schlowlibrary.org

 DJ Lilly

 Office Manager
 djlilly@schlowlibrary.org

 

 


 

 Chapter 3 - Executive Director Letter

 Updated – August 2021

1969 COG Articles of Agreement

“By joining together, we realized that our individual and common governmental destinies rest with the
interdependent actions of the local governments. This voluntary association which we have formed is designed to
achieve closer cooperation since it represents an organization in which the members seek by, mutual agreement,
to solve mutual problems for mutual benefit, and is not a new layer of government nor a super-government.”

 

 

Greetings,

The COG Agency Directors and I are pleased to present the Centre Region Council of Governments (COG) Program Preface.

The Program Preface is designed to educate current, prospective, and incoming elected officials; prospective and current staff; municipal officials; and others by providing background information for each of the COG Budgets. By making this information available, individuals can be both engaged in and knowledgeable about the COG.


WHY COG…

The COG was created to lower the costs of government-provided services by eliminating or reducing duplication and achieving economies of scale. Most Pennsylvania communities fund separate and distinct fire agencies, code departments, emergency management coordinators, parks and recreation programs, and have individualized comprehensive plans for guiding future land development. If one considers the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a whole, duplicating these services directly increases the cost of government for the taxpayer, can be confusing to the residents, and may lessen the quality of those services. In addition, many of the major problems confronting local governments are truly regional in nature. Land use planning, protection of the natural environment, and emergency preparedness planning typically span across municipal boundaries and can only be meaningfully addressed at the regional level. For other regional programs - fire protection, parks and recreation, refuse/recycling collection, and library services - because expenses are shared among multiple municipalities, the COG is typically able to provide the service at a lower per-resident cost than many other communities.

A key challenge for Pennsylvania’s 2,651 municipal governments is how to effectively and efficiently combine local self-government with cooperative partnerships that are capable of meeting residents’ service delivery expectations efficiently. By sharing services and coordinating planning efforts, municipalities that cooperate with neighboring communities can give residents more bang for their buck.


CLOSING SUMMARY

Among local governments, the Centre Region municipalities are exceptional because of the willingness, commitment, and skill of the elected and appointed municipal officials working together to serve the public and address common concerns. The degree of intergovernmental cooperation that is present among the six Centre Region municipalities, and increasing it to the adjacent jurisdictions, is unparalleled in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Most residents benefit from the COG in some way whether it be a visit to the library, having their refuse/recycling collected, being protected by the fire service, or living in the safety of a code-compliant building. But the commitment to collaboration and sharing resources for the public good is not limited to the COG.The Centre Area Transportation Authority, University Area Joint Authority, and State College Borough Water Authority are extensions of local government that join the area together and provide cost-effective regional services that are essential for public health and transport. At the individual employee level, municipal, COG, and authority staffs work together and strive to resolve issues through communication. This cooperation is best highlighted by the regular meetings of the municipal managers, public works officials, finance directors, human resources staff, and police chiefs. And, not to be overlooked, the municipalities communicate regularly with the Pennsylvania State University, one of the largest employers in Central Pennsylvania.

The way the municipalities collaborate through the COG, authorities, citizen groups, and the University have helped to create a growing community with a high quality of life that is, by many rankings, a great place to live and do business. Municipal officials who have recognized the benefits of communities working together to serve the public should be pleased with their accomplishments. Because of the shared investments of time and resources in the COG and other regional entities, the municipalities have been able to keep pace with construction and population growth, adapt to changes in the regulatory environment, protect public health, connect communities through new roads and paths, and safeguard our natural resources.

Respectfully submitted,


Eric Norenberg, COG Executive Director

 


 

 Chapter 4 - COG Overview

Updated – August 2021

OVERVIEW
OF THE
CENTRE REGION COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS

 

MISSION:

As stated in the COG Articles of Agreement, “The overriding goal of the Centre Region COG is to improve the quality of life for the residents of the Centre Region in the face of increasing pressures due to economic and population growth. We believe that this goal can best be achieved through cooperative efforts by the regional municipalities. This involves combining our various resources to meet regional challenges that may be beyond our individual capabilities.”


COUNCILS OF GOVERNMENT

Councils of Governments are established by State Act 180, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Law (53 PA.C.S.A. Section 481 et. seq.) as amended. The main features of this legislation are:

  • Municipalities can delegate any function, power, or responsibility to another municipality or to a newly created governmental unit (e.g., a COG).
  • A Council of Governments organization has no taxing power.
  • A Council of Governments organization’s structure, scope of services, method of municipal representation, and voting requirements are matters of local choice.
  • Cooperative services provided by a Council of Governments organization must be approved by ordinances that are adopted by each governing body.

A COG is not another layer of government. It provides the means of communication, cooperation, and joint action in the interest of the municipalities, individually and collectively. The active and informed involvement of the elected officials in policy and funding decisions is key to the success of all Council of Governments.


INTRODUCTION

The Centre Region Council of Governments is a voluntary association of the State College Borough and College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris, and Patton Townships. The service area is 150 square miles, and according to the most recent population estimate of approximately 97,000 people live in the Centre Region including students at the University Park Campus of the Pennsylvania State University.

The Centre Region COG was established on December 2, 1969, to perform the following functions:
  • Provide a forum for discussing regional issues.
  • Produce cost-effective public services.
  • Promote coordinated land use and infrastructure planning.
  • Facilitate the exchange of information.

The organizational structure and the duties of the Centre Region COG are defined by Articles of Agreement, which are adopted by ordinance by each of the individual municipalities. In addition, there are separate Articles of Agreement for each COG Agency, which define: agency responsibilities, funding formulas, and terms of admittance and withdrawal. COG services are offered as a “cafeteria” plan to the municipalities. Each community has the option to participate in some or all COG programs. This menu approach underscores the voluntary nature of the Centre Region COG. The table below shows municipal participation for 2018.

Municipal Participation in COG
 

State College
Borough

College
Township
Ferguson
Township
Halfmoon
Township
Harris
Township
Patton
Township
 Benner
Township
Bellefonte
Borough
Administration X
X X X X X    
Parks and Recreation X X X   X X    
Planning X
X X X X X    
Fire Protection X X X     X    
Emergency Management X X X X X X    
Library X X X X X X    
Refuse and Recycling   X X   X X X  
Code Administration X X X X X X   X

 

ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT

A requirement of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Law is that a municipality may engage in intergovernmental cooperation with another local government “upon passage of an ordinance” by the affecting governing bodies. The ordinance must address the manner of funding the joint program, how real estate is to be acquired and managed, the method of providing benefits (including social security) for its employees, the program’s organizational structure, and the conditions for entering into the joint program.

The Centre Region municipalities comply with this requirement by adopting individual ordinances that include Articles of Agreement for each COG program. This document addresses all the issues identified by the Intergovernmental Cooperation Law in addition to conditions that may be approved by the municipalities. There are Articles of Agreement for the Centre Region COG as well as for each COG program except the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO), which is a county-wide organization. Articles of Agreement are developed by a COG Committee, referred to the General Forum for review and endorsement, and then forwarded to the individual municipalities for approval. The COG Articles of Agreement were last updated in November 2008.

Highlights of the Centre Region COG’s Articles of Agreement are:

  • Voting – Most issues are decided by a majority vote of the General Forum. The exceptions are acquiring property, borrowing more than 1.5% of the budget, or amending the Articles of Agreement; these actions require a unanimous vote.
  • Committee Structure – The standing committees of the COG are: Executive, Finance, Human Resources, Parks Capital, Public Safety, Public Services and Environmental, and Transportation and Land Use. COG Committees may decide to offer voting or non-voting membership to outside organizations (e.g., Penn State University and the Bellefonte Borough).
  • Executive Director – The General Forum shall appoint an Executive Director who is responsible for: preparing the annual budget; appointing and discharging all COG employees (except Agency Directors whose appointment/dismissal requires the prior concurrence of the Executive Committee); serving as the General Forum “ex officio” treasurer and secretary; and proposing policies and programs for consideration by the General Forum.
  • Formula – Costs for most COG programs are based on the three factors of the COG formula: population excluding individuals typically of college-age, assessed valuation of taxable property, and gross earned income. Some Articles of Agreements for individual COG programs identify other funding formulas. For instance, the costs for the regional library program are based on the percentage of library items circulated to residents of each municipality relevant to total circulation.



GENERAL FORUM

Under the COG Articles of Agreement, the policy-making body of the Centre Region COG is the General Forum, which is comprised of all of the elected officials (32 members) from the six Centre Region municipalities. The General Forum establishes the COG’s budget and major policies for the programs approved by the participating municipalities. At General Forum meetings, each municipality has one vote; the chair may use a voice vote of the majority of those present to pass motions and resolutions. Meeting dates for the General Forum are advertised in the Centre Daily Times and on the COG website. Information on how to attend and participate is included on the COG website as well. Meetings can be viewed through C-NET on Channel 7 or the C-NET website at http://www.cnet1.org and C-NET’s YouTube.com site and agendas are available on the COG website at http://www.crcog.net. Any member of the General Forum has the right to call for a unit vote by each municipality on any issue being voted upon at any time. The Pennsylvania State University has a non-voting designated representative to the General Forum. Non-voting liaisons from the State College Area School District and The Pennsylvania State University are also designated representatives. Each elected official receives a General Forum meeting agenda packet either in printed or electronic form as requested.

 


 

 Chapter 5 - Administration Budget

Updated – September 2023


MISSION

The mission of the Office of Administration is to facilitate the delivery of high-quality and cost-effective public services as requested by the General Forum, to implement the policies approved by the General Forum, and to work with COG Agencies and others to build shared solutions to common problems that cross jurisdictional boundary lines.


WHO ARE WE?

The primary work objectives of the Office of Administration’s staff are to: provide staff support to the General Forum and its committees, coordinate the management of COG facilities, prepare the COG budget and manage financial services for all agencies, and assist the COG Agencies with Human Resources administration. Of these, the most important is the provision of staff support to the elected officials during all phases of the COG decision-making process. Without the informed involvement of the elected officials, the COG would not be as successful as it has been. COG staff assistance encompasses working with elected officials on a variety of activities including identifying actual and potential regional concerns, evaluating alternative courses of action, building consensus recommendations, implementing approved decisions, and monitoring the outcome of those actions.

To perform these services, the Office of Administration is comprised of the following full-time staff:

  • Executive Director
  • Finance Director
  • Finance Administrator
  • Finance Assistant
  • Facilities Project Manager
  • Human Resources Director
  • Human Resources Administrator
  • Executive Office Administrator 


The Office of Administration was established in 1974. From 1969 to 1970, COG Administrative services were the responsibility of the State College Borough Manager on a volunteer basis. From 1971 to 1973, the Office of Administration was led by the Executive Secretary (the CRPC Director). The position of COG General Secretary was created at the beginning of 1974. To provide coordination among the COG Agencies, this position was upgraded to the Director of Administration in 1979. During the 1980s, as the COG grew in response to increasing service demands from the municipalities, various committees discussed how to reduce the COG’s organizational complexity and clarify the lines of accountability to the elected officials. In response to this concern, the General Forum adopted Resolution 87-6 in August 1987, which upgraded the position of Director of Administration to that of Executive Director. Through this action, the Executive Director was authorized to direct, supervise, and administer the agencies and programs of the COG in accordance with the policies established by the General Forum, except as otherwise provided for by ordinance or statute.

During 2013 and 2014, the Administration Office was significantly reorganized and on January 1, 2015, began providing accounting, investment, auditing support, and payroll services for all the COG Agencies as well as supporting them in their human resources and benefits administration. (Previously, these services were provided by State College Borough’s Finance Department.) At that time, the General Forum agreed that the COG had grown to the point where many of these services should be handled internally by the COG.

 

WHAT DO WE DO?

The Office of Administration has four basic goals:

  • Provide staff support to the General Forum and its committees to ensure the implementation of their policy decisions.
  • Coordinate the provision of joint public services and facility operations.
  • Provide financial management services to all the COG Agencies and prepare and administer the annual budget.
  • Provide human resources management services to all the COG Agencies.

The following are work tasks the Office of Administration strives to accomplish in order to achieve those goals.

 A.  Provide appropriate staff support to the COG’s General Forum, Committees, Boards, and Commissions and ensure the successful implementation of their policy decisions.

Ongoing Contributions...

  • Preparing agendas, minutes, reports, and correspondence for the General Forum and the Executive, Human Resources, Finance, and Facilities Committees. In the past, the Office of Administration also provided staff support to the Solar Power Purchasing Agreement Working Group, the Fire Study Committee, and the Executive Director Recruitment and Screening Committee. Following a review of the COG committee structure and processes in 2020, COG Administration has implemented several recommendations to improve the functioning of COG committees. In addition, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, COG Administration led the organization’s move to virtual meetings and planned the transition to hybrid in-person/remote meetings in 2021. 
  • Serving as the COG liaison to, and coordinating meetings of, other public organizations such as C-NET, Centre County Public Safety Training Center Advisory Committee, and the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Governments (PACOG).
  • Responding to Right to Know Requests. The COG Administration Office Manager is the COG’s Right to Know Officer. COG Administration responds to an average of 50 requests for public records annually.
  • Serving as the elected and appointed officials’ principal point of contact with the COG on issues relating to the quantity and quality of COG services.
  • Conducting activities to enhance public understanding of the COG. Some of these activities include the cable-casting / streaming of General Forum meetings and committee meetings of regional interest on C-NET and YouTube, maintaining the COG website www.crcog.net, attending community and municipal meetings, and assisting the public and the municipalities with information requests. In addition, the Office of Administration prepares and presents information about joint programs to municipal and state associations such as the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Governments, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Council, Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, and other organizations seeking to improve the collaborative provision of local government services.
  • Continuing to grow positive working relationships with the business community within the Centre Region. The Executive Director has served on the Managers’ Committee of the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County (CBICC) and collaborates with the CBICC on other projects and initiatives.
  • Conducting educational programs for elected officials to familiarize them with how the COG is organized, the services it provides, the role of the elected officials, and non-COG regional partnerships that may impact municipalities. Through a combination of “Lunch and Learn” sessions, tours, one-on-one meetings, and prerecorded videos, COG provides a range of educational opportunities for municipal officials. In addition, training sessions to benefit all COG members are held periodically.
  • Using the COG website to make more information electronically available to the General Forum. Administration Staff has upgraded the website to provide a significant amount of current COG information (including budgets and agenda packets) and background and historic records electronically. This has reduced mailing and duplication costs, reduced environmental impact, and made information more readily accessible to elected officials, the public, and the media.
  • Maintaining the COG website for public access to regional services. The average monthly hits to the COG’s homepage averaged about 9,129 hits per month between 2017 and 2020.During the first seven months of 2021, the trending average is about 6,133 hits per month. In addition, COG Administration and COG agencies collaborate to effectively use social media platforms including, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

 

 B.  Coordinating the provision of joint public services and facility operations as directed by the General Forum.

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Supporting all COG Agency Directors in accomplishing COG Committee/Authority/Board work goals and/or the resolution of areas of regional concerns. This support includes close collaboration in preparing information, analysis, and recommendations for consideration by the municipal officials. In addition, the Executive Director works closely to ensure there is timely, thorough, and accurate communication between the COG Agencies and the municipal officials.
  • Coordinating the implementation of COG services and plans as approved by the General Forum. In the past, this has included assistance in coordinating the process to gain municipal consensus on issues such as the purchase, master planning, and development of three regional parks and the adoption of a regional Sewer Service Area Agreement.
  • Assisting the Centre Region Emergency Management Coordinator and the COG Fire Director in advancing proposals and plans that require municipal approval.
  • The COG Facilities Coordinator started in January 2021 and has completed facility assessments of Park Forest and Welch Pools, and will continue facility assessments throughout FY2022. The initial phase of the facility condition assessment process was to understand the costs of operation and propose common benchmarks to evaluate utility, maintenance and repair, and other operational expenses per square foot. Key factors that are evaluated in the facility condition assessment process include health and safety risks, age of physical plant, maintenance and operational needs, overall impression, and capital asset reinvestment needs. The results and recommendations from the facility condition assessments will assist to inform future Program Plans and the CIP to ensure that adequate resources are available to maintain facilities and support the programs while prioritizing requests to flatten the CIP year to year.

    In addition, the Facilities Coordinator assisted in planning and preparation for a safe reopening of COG facilities and has completed a lease and property management review and is developing recommendations. The Facilities Coordinator is assisting in the development of Whitehall Road Regional Park and the Millbrook Marsh Spring Creek Education Building, Boardwalk, and Welcome Center by reviewing design and construction documents, facilitating value engineering processes, and developing project management tools that ensure budget tracking, project transparency, and schedule management. An additional goal within FY2022 is to develop a COG-wide fleet management program.

 

 C.  Providing the COG Agencies with financial management, investment, accounting, payroll, and internal control services.

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Coordinating the preparation of the COG’s Program Plan, Program Preface, Detailed and Summary Budgets, and annual updates to the Capital Improvement Plan and providing for review by the Finance Committee and approval by the General Forum.
  • Providing payroll services, as well as accounts payable, accounts receivable, and cash management services.
  • Monitoring the COG Agency budgets to ensure that expenditures are within budget appropriations.
  • Supporting the efforts of the Finance Committee in developing and executing financial plans for regional borrowings and debt refinancing.
  • Assigning costs (e.g. utilities, mailing, copying) that are shared among multiple COG Agencies to the appropriate fund.
  • Preparing and maintaining financial management policies.
  • Preparing financial analysis of proposed services and projects including quarterly budget reports to the Finance Committee.
  • Presenting financial information and reports to various stakeholder groups such as the Finance Committee and the General Forum.
  • Assisting in the process to prepare the annual audit reports for the Centre Region Council of Governments, the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority, and the Schlow Centre Region Library.
  • Providing financial management services to the Centre County Federation of Public Libraries.

 

 D.  Provide and administer a comprehensive personnel management system that maximizes the use of COG Staff.

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Implementing and maintaining a payroll system that processes approximately 400 W-2s for full-time, part-time, and seasonal staff.
  • Supporting the Agency Directors in recruiting personnel, enrolling staff in the COG benefit programs, orienting staff to COG’s personnel policies and procedures, and resolving personnel issues.
  • Updating the Position Classification Plan and job descriptions for COG personnel as required, including assisting Agency Directors in the preparation of new job descriptions or updates to existing job descriptions.
  • Conducting compensation surveys to ensure that the pay plan allows the COG to attract and retain qualified employees.
  • Providing administrative support to the Employee Relations Committee that has implemented and maintained a Wellness Program that includes Health Improvement Program Reimbursements (HIPR) implemented in 2018. Both programs have high employee participation rates.
  • Administration of employee benefits for full-time, part-time and seasonal employees.
  • Administering medical insurance policies, life insurance, long-term disability insurance, dental and vision programs, flex spending accounts, 457 and Roth IRA plans, workers’ compensation, and unemployment policies for all COG Staff, including responding to questions and concerns.
  • Administering, updating, compiling data, and running reports via the Keystone iSolved Payroll System. This portal is also the main function to all full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees’ payroll.
  • Maintain the COG’s Personnel Policy and Personnel Handbook (adopted in 2019) and developing new or updated personnel policies or procedures, in conjunction with Agency Directors and the Human Resources Committee.
  • Implement performance evaluation programs, employee orientation programs, and employee supervisory training.

 


 

 Chapter 6 - COG Contingency Fund Budget

Updated – August 2021


M
ISSION

The COG Contingency Fund was established to finance the COG’s fiscal obligations arising from emergency situations or special projects not provided for in the annual agency budgets and approved by the General Forum.


WHO ARE WE?

Because the COG Agencies normally operate with minimum cash reserves, the Contingency Fund is an essential component of the COG’s financial management system. It permits the COG to adjust to unanticipated or unusual expenses while maintaining existing service levels and stabilizing municipal contributions during the fiscal year.


Effective with the adoption of the 2018 budget, expenditures from the Contingency Fund under $4,000 may be approved by the Executive Director, but those over $4,000 require the approval of the General Forum.

In the past, the Contingency Fund has been used to finance such items as: the engineering study to determine COG participation in connecting to the KINBER Wide Area Network (WAN), repair of a sinkhole at the COG building, recruitment costs for the Planning and Library Directors, the interest on a loan relating to the acquisition of the Oak Hall Regional Park property, the July 4th Fireworks, the development of a model ordinance relating to land use controls around the I-99 interchanges, the purchase of a LUCAS chest compression system for Centre LifeLink, and unanticipated legal expenses regarding the COG’s denial of a Development of Regional Impact application.


WHAT DO WE DO?

The Contingency Fund has been a component of the COG Budget since at least 1973. From 1973 to 1984, by tradition, the beginning year fund balance was set at 1% of the total COG Budget. In 1985, the General Forum set the balance of the Contingency Fund at 1% of the COG Budget, not including agency fund balances, the Centre Region Code Administration Budget, and special capital budgets (e.g., the Eastern Inner Loop, COG Housing, Pools Capital, Library Capital, Fire Capital, and Fire Training Site).

During the budget review sessions in 2000, the COG Finance Committee recommended that the General Forum consider no additional municipal contributions to the Contingency Fund for 2000, which froze the fund at $26,380; the ending year balance from 1999. This fixed amount for the Contingency Fund balance was approved by the General Forum in adopting the 2000 to 2009 COG Budgets. Recognizing that the COG Budget had increased during that ten-year period, the General Forum, upon the recommendation of the Finance Committee, increased the threshold amount to approximately $35,000 for 2010 and 2011 but elected not to replenish the funds utilized for the KINBER engineering study in 2017/2018. The January 1, 2019 beginning year fund balance was $26,944.


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 Chapter 7 - COG Building Capital Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The purpose of the COG Building Capital Budget is to finance capital improvements, capital replacements, and major repairs to the COG Building.


WHO ARE WE?

The COG Building Capital Budget established a sinking fund to finance the replacement of major capital components, systems (e.g., roof, heat pumps), and building-wide technology-related equipment for the COG Building. As the building ages, its architectural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing components, furnishings, and technology equipment will need to be replaced or upgraded through the life of the COG lease (2028). The COG Facilities Committee and the COG Facilities Project Manager assesses, plans, and recommends the most beneficial, efficient, and sustainable operation of the COG building, for both near and long terms. The role of the Finance Committee is to oversee the Building Capital Budget.

The COG Facilities Coordinator (hired in 2021) provides the leadership role for the COG Building planning and operations, with the assistance of two current employees as COG building managers who oversee the maintenance and repair of the building. The employees receive additional compensation to recognize the additional work associated with these duties. In 2017-2018 the responsibility for the maintenance of the COG’s IP telephone system, HVAC monitoring, and key fob updates was shifted from COG staff to the IT staff of State College Borough as part of the COG’s service agreement with the Borough.

 

WHAT DO WE DO?

As previously mentioned, the six Centre Region municipalities own the COG building. There is a 25-year lease between the municipalities and COG for the lease of the building. The lease began in 2003 and ends in 2028. In 2021 there will be seven years left on the lease. The elected officials who approved the lease agreement in 2003 were silent about what should happen to the building at the end of a 25-year lease in 2028. They believed that the individuals who are in an elected office close to the time when the lease expires should decide what to do.

In 2018, the General Forum created the Facilities Committee to review, improve, and plan the future utilization of the COG Building and other COG-owned and maintained facilities. This direction is important because, during the next eight years costly improvements (roof replacement, repaving the parking lot, expanding the parking lot, HVAC replacements, emergency power generator, etc.) may be required.

In 2019, due to the growth of the Parks and Recreation and Code agencies, staff determined the most cost-effective option to deal with the space limitations in the COG Building would be for Parks and Recreation to move to a separate location with an approximate seven-year lease (with options to terminate after five years and extend beyond seven years).

In 2020, the Refuse and Recycling Administrator relocated from the Administration suite to space vacated by the Code Agency within the Planning suite. This move created space in the Office of Administration suite for the Facilities Coordinator.

In 2021, Code Administration completed the process of expanding its space in the COG Building to utilize the former Parks and Recreation suite.


OF PARTICULAR NOTE

There are two primary sources of income for the COG Building Capital Fund; municipal contributions based on the current regular COG funding formula and transfers from the Refuse and Recycling, Code New Construction, and Code Existing Structures Programs.

Since the fund was established in 2005, the following changes were approved by the Finance Committee:

  • 2007: Municipal contributions and the estimated replacement costs should be annually adjusted by the change
    in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U).
  • 2010: Technology-related equipment (servers, switches, etc.) shared by the Agencies located in the COG
    Building should be included in the Building Capital Budget.
  • 2012: Costs were updated based upon current and estimated replacement costs and they are adjusted annually
    by 3% in accordance with the Capital Improvement Program (CIP).


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.



 

 Chapter 8 - COG Insurance Reserve Fund Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The mission of the Insurance Reserve Fund is to serve as a depository for the receipt and expenditure of excess funds received from the Pennsylvania Municipal Health Insurance Cooperative (PMHIC) that occurs when employee health insurance premiums are less than the expenses paid.


WHO ARE WE?

The Insurance Reserve Fund was established in 2007 to track the refunds received through the PMHIC program. Original cooperative member organizations in Centre County included the COG, Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA), Ferguson Township, Patton Township, and State College Borough. College Township joined the cooperative in 2009, the Bellefonte Borough in 2011, and Harris Township in late 2012.

The COG’s fund is used as follows:

  • To offset increases in medical insurance premiums.
  • To fund unexpected and unbudgeted increases in medical insurance. For instance, when an employee with single medical coverage is replaced with an employee with family coverage.
  • To fund employee wellness activities (e.g. health screenings, flu shots, and educational programs).
  • To pay for expenses associated with the Affordable Care Act.


WHAT DO WE DO?

Every year COG’s medical experience (dollar value of claims) is compared with the premiums that were paid into the PMHIC program. If the premiums are greater than the experience, COG receives a refund based upon a formulaic percentage of the unused premiums. The actual amount can vary widely. Transfers from PMHIC into this fund are entirely based on the medical costs of the COG Staff and their families. It is a very unpredictable and volatile budget.

A key component to the realization of these refunds is the existence and investment in the Employee Wellness Program that was initiated by the Human Resources Committee. Prior to 2011, the insurance reimbursements were for the most part accumulated; however, there were occasional expenditures for health and wellness and transfers to various agencies to bridge a funding gap, if necessary, due to changes in employees’ status.

The COG Finance Committee elected to pay a portion of increases in medical premiums in 2011-2019 out of the Insurance Reserve Fund.

A cautionary note accompanies this recommendation, this budget may not be sustainable over the long term. Should the Insurance Reserve Fund not continue to grow, at some point in the future, the accumulation of employee health rate increases will need to be paid in one lump sum.To avoid this from occurring, the status of the fund should be carefully examined as each year’s budget is prepared. If the COG does not receive a surplus payment or the payment is very low, then changes in fund management should be implemented to ensure the fund is sustainable over the long term.


WHAT IS THE COST?

No municipal funds are directly contributed to the Insurance Reserve Fund. Revenue is composed entirely of a PMHIC reimbursement of medical premiums that have been paid by the COG and its employees.


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.



 Chapter 9 - COG Unemployment Fund Budget

Updated – August 2021


M
ISSION

The purpose of the Unemployment Fund is to finance the COG’s self-funded unemployment account in an amount sufficient to pay unemployment claims for former COG employees as determined by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


WHO ARE WE?

The Unemployment Fund is administered by the COG Office of Administration, with revenue and expenditures being reviewed by the Finance Committee as part of the COG Budget process. This budget was introduced to the COG as a separate fund in the 2018 Detailed Budget in order to assure that COG has adequate funds available to finance claims for unemployment insurance.


WHAT DO WE DO?

The Unemployment Fund, added as a new fund beginning in 2018, was established to:

  • Pay claims for former COG employees as directed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
  • Improve tracking of expenses and revenues (transfers from COG Agencies) for unemployment claims.
  • Improve the ability to assess whether the pool of funds is adequate to pay known and potential obligations.


COG began managing this account effective January 1, 2015, with the transition of responsibility for providing financial and accounting services from the Borough of State College to the COG’s Office of Administration. Prior to January 1, 2015, unemployment funds were held in trust in the Borough’s General Fund during which COG received annual updates of all transfers in and out of the fund.

The COG’s self-funded unemployment budget includes all the regional program agencies except the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority (Millbrook Marsh Nature Center and Aquatics part-time employees) and Schlow Centre Region Library. Separate policies are used for these employees.

COG has utilized the self-funded approach due to its low history of low claims, which allows COG to maintain funds in its own bank account rather than remitting those funds to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Administrative staff believes, based upon the history of claims, that a self-funded program is the most cost-effective way to pay for unemployment claims.


WHAT IS THE COST?

The Unemployment Fund is funded through Interfund Transfers, consisting of staff-directed payroll taxes incurred from the individual funds from COG Agencies.


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 Chapter 10 - Emergency Management - Operating Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The missionof the Centre Region Emergency Management Program is to ensure a coordinated effort to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate emergencies in a manner that utilizes resources effectively to protect lives and property in the Borough of State College and the Townships of College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris, and Patton.


WHO ARE WE?

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Code (Title 35) requires each municipality to have an Emergency Management, an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP).

In 1986, the General Forum authorized a study that confirmed emergency management services in the Centre Region were inadequate and should be coordinated for a regional response to a disaster. By 1990, all the Centre Region municipalities made the following improvements:

  • Created a regional Emergency Management Program with a single Coordinator through an agreement with Penn State’s Office of University Safety that received approval from the Governor.
  • Adopted by ordinance, the Joint Articles of Agreement for Emergency Management Services and
    established a regional program administered and funded through the COG.
  • Adopted a Centre Region Emergency Operations Plan.
  • Designated a single Emergency Operations Center.

The Centre Region’s joint Emergency Management Program is considered to be a Best Practice Program by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) because it provides a regionally coordinated response to declared emergencies.

The Emergency Management Program’s budget provides for the following staff:

Full-Time:
  • Emergency Management Coordinator                                    


Part-Time:

  • On-Call Deputy Coordinator ~ 250 hours per week
  • Staff Assistant (240 hours/year) provided through the COG Fire Protection Program


Volunteers:

In addition to the Emergency Management Coordinator and on-call Deputy Coordinator, the Centre Region is fortunate to have four trained volunteer deputy coordinators to assist the Coordinator and Deputy during emergencies or to fill in during an absence.


BACKGROUND

Administrative oversight of the Emergency Management Program is provided by the Centre Region Emergency Management Council (EMC), which is comprised of the Vice-Chair of the COG General Forum, the Centre Region Municipal Managers, the COG Executive Director, and a representative from Penn State University.

From 1990 to 2002, the Centre Region Emergency Management Coordinator was a volunteer position. A comprehensive review of the Centre Region’s Emergency Management Program followed the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Municipal officials concluded after the assessment that the existing program which was based on a volunteer Emergency Management Coordinator was not adequate to meet future threats.

The Centre Region, including the University Park campus of Penn State University, is a potential target for domestic and international terrorism. The following contributing factors make the Centre Region a higher-risk community: national sports and entertainment venues, a large international population, and the Region’s growing importance as a transportation hub.

In 2002 after meeting with County and Penn State University officials, the EMC made the following recommendations:

  • There should be a single Emergency Management Plan, EOC, and Emergency Management Coordinator for the Centre Region.
  • The Centre Region Emergency Management Program should continue to be administered by the COG.
  • The COG and Penn State University should establish a coordinated program for emergency management.
  • A full-time, paid Emergency Management Coordinator should be appointed, with costs shared between the COG and the University.


The EMC’s recommendations were approved by the municipalities and implemented through a five-year agreement between the COG and Penn State University. The Emergency Management Coordinator began work in February 2003. The contract with Penn State University expired on August 31, 2007; however, during its June 25, 2007 meeting, the General Forum approved the following motion to extend the agreement through August 31, 2008:

“That the General Forum, as recommended by the Public Services Committee, extend the Emergency Management Services contract with The Pennsylvania State University for a period of one year, ending August 31, 2008, under the conditions recommended by the Centre Region Emergency Management Council; and in addition, that the General Forum ask the Emergency Management Council to evaluate the need for a full-time Centre Region Emergency Management Coordinator for the General Forum’s consideration by December 31, 2007.”

 

In response to the General Forum’s request, the EMC evaluated the arrangement and concluded that the responsibilities of the Emergency Management Program justified a full-time employee who would serve as the regional Emergency Management Coordinator for the six municipalities.

In June 2008, the recommendations of the EMC were reviewed and endorsed by the COG Public Services Committee, presented to the General Forum, and referred to the municipalities for comment. The Committee’s proposals presented were subsequently approved by all six Centre Region municipalities and presented to the General Forum for approval.

To implement this change to the Emergency Management Program, four actions were required. During the August 25, 2008 meeting, the General Forum reviewed the four items listed below and approved the following actions to implement the changes:

  1. Confirm the General Forum’s intent to create a new position and modify the COG/Penn State University Emergency Management Agreement.
  2. Approve the revised COG/Penn State Emergency Management Agreement.
  3. Approve a Memorandum of Understanding that identified the interim arrangements for the Emergency Management Program.
  4. Prepare a draft job description for the Centre Region Emergency Management Coordinator for consideration by the EMC and Personnel Committee (now known as the Human Resources Committee).

During the process of making changes to the Emergency Management Program, Mr. Stephen Abrams retired from Penn State University where he had served as the joint Emergency Management Coordinator. Subsequently, the General Forum, at its November 28, 2008 meeting, unanimously agreed to recommend to Governor Corbett that Mr. Shawn Kauffman be appointed as the full-time Centre Region Emergency Management Coordinator effective January 1, 2009. In 2020, the General Forum approved the addition of a part-time on-call Deputy Coordinator to support and serve as a backup to the Emergency Management Coordinator. The Deputy Coordinator, Derek Hoover, acts on behalf of the Centre Region when the Coordinator is out of the area or additional staff is needed for special events in the Centre Region.

The Centre Region Emergency Management Program,whichhas always had a strong partnership with Penn State University and the Penn State Emergency Management Program, has become more comprehensive and mutually supportive. The partnership supports a joint EOC which was relocated from the Eisenhower Parking Deck to Beaver Stadium in 2010. The new EOC provides emergency management support to the entire Centre Region and Penn State University. During the last several years, the COG and University have conducted joint training and mutually retained a consultant to evaluate emergency operations and identify opportunities for improvement. The relationship between COG and Penn State University is often used as an example for other town/gown communities in the United States.


WHAT DO WE DO?

The Emergency Management Program provides the following services for the participating municipalities:
  • Developing, maintaining, and updating Emergency Operations Plans for the Centre Region Municipalities.
  • Enhancing the Centre Region’s Emergency Management public outreach.
  • Identifying, maintaining, equipping, and staffing five Regional Emergency Shelters.
  • Providing training opportunities and conduct exercises for staff and volunteers who may be needed during emergencies.
  • Maintaining and activating, if necessary, the Emergency Operations Center.

 A.  Develop, maintain, and update Emergency Operations Plans for the Centre Region municipalities.

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Developing, maintaining, and updating the regional emergency plans: Centre Region Basic Plan, Notification and Resource Manual, Emergency Operations Center Checklists, Hazard Specific Plans, Alerting and Notification Plan, Sheltering Plan, and Continuity of Operations Plan.
  • Developing, maintaining, and updating event-specific plans: Memorial Day, Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, and People’s Choice Arts Festival, support Penn State University football events, Ag Progress Days, and other special event planning.
  • Assisting Centre Region municipalities with the development and maintenance of individual Continuity of Operations Plans.
  • Assisting local businesses and authorities with the preparation and review of required emergency planning documents.
  • Organizing an annual meeting between the Public Safety Committee, PennDOT, utility providers, and municipal first responders to exchange information regarding emergency planning.
  • Coordinating Centre Region Emergency Services for major emergencies and special events.

 

 B.  Enhance the Centre Region’s Emergency Management public outreach.

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Providing emergency preparedness presentations to local civic groups and business associations, as requested.
  • Attending open houses and safety fairs to present emergency preparedness information.
  • Attending General Forum meetings to provide updates to the elected officials regarding the Emergency Management Program.
  • Updating the Centre Region Emergency Management website, www.crcog.net/EM, and social media websites (Facebook and Twitter) with current emergency preparedness information.
  • Coordinating the delivery of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training to community volunteers who are interested in assisting their neighbors during a declared emergency.

 

 C.  Maintain and equip the Regional Emergency Shelters so that they are in a state of readiness and provide staff during emergencies.

Ongoing Contributions…

Monitor the five Centre Region COG shelters shown below (Park Forest Elementary School, Boalsburg Fire Company, Mount Nittany United Methodist Church, Halfmoon Christian Fellowship Church, and St. Paul Lutheran Church) to ensure that they can be expeditiously and efficiently used as public shelters during an emergency. Each of these shelters can function effectively in the event of a power outage.

  • Arranging shelter training for community volunteers that staff the Centre Region shelters.
  • Identifying new shelters and preparing recommendations for the EMC to consider.
  • Maintaining effective working relationships with American Red Cross staff that are responsible for operating shelters during an emergency.

 

 D.  Provide training opportunities and conduct exercises for staff and volunteers who may be needed during emergencies.

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Coordinating training for individuals and groups that have a role in preparing for and responding to emergencies.
  • Arranging the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) training for elected and appointed municipal officials.
  • Organizing tabletop and functional exercises for local first responders.
  • Exercising notification and alerting systems and resolving or arranging for resolution of problems within those systems.

 

 E.  Maintain and activate, if necessary, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Maintaining the Centre Region COG agreement with Penn State University for the use of the EOC.
  • Testing and maintaining EOC equipment to assure its availability during an emergency.
  • Updating the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and related documents located in the EOC.
  • Providing management of Emergency Support staff when EOC is activated.



OF PARTICULAR NOTE

During 2020 and the first half of 2021, the Centre Region COG Office of Emergency Management dedicated much of its time to responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centre Region utilized a virtual approach to Emergency Operations Center activities by utilizing the Zoom platform for information sharing and briefing of Centre Region stakeholders. Lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic are being utilized to better prepare the Centre Region for future health emergencies.

 


 

 Chapter 11 - Emergency Management - Contingency Fund Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The mission of the Centre Region Emergency Management Contingency Budget is to provide a pool of funds for the Centre Region Emergency Management Coordinator to use in responding to a declared emergency. This Budget was established in accordance with the Joint Articles of Agreement for the Regional Emergency Management Program that was adopted by the Centre Region municipalities.


WHO ARE WE?

During its November 27, 2006 meeting, the General Forum referred a recommendation to the Centre Region municipalities from the Centre Region Emergency Management Council (EMC) to update the 2002 Articles of Agreement for the Regional Emergency Management Program.The goal of the changes was to improve the Centre Region’s capacity to respond to an emergency in a coordinated, timely, and focused manner. Major changes contained in the revised Articles of Agreement related to the authority for declaring an emergency, the duties of the EMC, and how the response to a declared emergency should be funded.

The EMC’s proposal was approved by the General Forum and adopted by each of the Centre Region municipalities. To implement the revised Articles of Agreement, the 2007 COG Budget established the Emergency Management Contingency Budget to finance responses to declared emergencies. Based on the revised Articles of Agreement, the municipalities are to contribute a combined total of $25,000 to the budget for four years beginning in 2007 to create and maintain a $100,000 inflation-adjusted pool of funds. Due to the economic downturn in 2008, the General Forum elected to reduce the municipal contribution to $10,000 from 2009 to 2013, the year when the $100,000 targeted threshold was reached. For the calendar year, 2014 municipal contributions were based on changes in the Customer Price Index.


WHAT DO WE DO?

In 2005, the EMC discussed how the initial response to an emergency would be funded. The EMC realized that during the initial response period, there should be clear guidelines as to who is responsible for expending funds and who should be authorized. After much discussion, the EMC recommended to the General Forum and the Centre Region municipalities that the Emergency Management Coordinator be authorized to spend up to $100,000 during a declared emergency when there is an imminent threat to human life. Expenditures greater than that amount require the approval of the EMC.


OF PARTICULAR NOTE

During 2020, the General Forum authorized spending $15,000.00 from the Contingency Fund to support the COVID-19 response of Meals On Wheels to purchase, prepare and deliver food to the senior population in our community. Due to the length of the pandemic and potential funding sources to replenish the expenditure, the General Forum elected to begin restoration of the account in 2022.



 

 Chapter 12 - Code Administration - Overall Agency

Updated – June 2023


MISSION

The overall mission of the Centre Region Code Administration (CRCA) is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all people working, residing, and visiting in the seven municipalities served by the CRCA by providing administration of the Uniform Construction Code of Pennsylvania (UCC) for new construction, the locally adopted Centre Region Building Safety & Property Maintenance Code,and Borough of Bellefonte Safety & Property Maintenance Code for existing buildings.


WHO ARE WE?

The Centre Region Code Administration (CRCA) was created in 1968 by the Articles of Agreement adopted by the participating municipalities (State College Borough and College, Ferguson, and Patton Townships) as a building and plumbing inspection agency. In 1980 the Agency added electrical inspection services to the program and by the mid-1980’s the four municipalities also participated in the CRCA’s Rental Housing Program. Harris Township joined the regional building and plumbing inspection service programs in 1990 and the Rental Housing Program in 2001. With the adoption of the Uniform Construction Code of Pennsylvania in 2004, Halfmoon Township joined the New Construction Program but chose not to participate in the Rental Housing or Commercial Fire Inspection Programs of the CRCA. In May 2014, the Bellefonte Borough signed a three-year agreement with the Centre Region COG to provide CRCA inspection services, including new construction, rental housing, and commercial fire inspections beginning July 1, 2014. In May 2017, Bellefonte Borough Council voted to extend the service agreement with CRCA.On January 1, 2019, the Agency began providing Sewage Enforcement Officer (SEO) services in College, Ferguson and Halfmoon Townships,and the Borough of State College.

The CRCA is funded entirely through building, rental housing, fire permits, and sewer management fees. No tax monies have financed the Agency in over 40 years. In addition, the CRCA reimburses the COG Office of Administration for the financial, human resource management, and administrative services it receives based on the relative percentage of the CRCA budget to the overall COG budget.

The CRCA has two primary divisions, the New Construction, and Existing Structures Programs:

  • New Construction Program – The CRCA provides plan review and field inspection services for all new construction and building renovations (residential, commercial, and institutional) occurring in the member municipalities (College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris, and Patton Townships and the Boroughs of Bellefonte and State College), except for structures on Penn State University, University Park Campus and those owned by the state or federal government.

    The code standard administered by the CRCA that applies to all new construction and building renovation activity is the International Code Council (ICC) family of codes. ICC is a national code standard adopted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,known as the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) of Pennsylvania or Act 45 of 1999. While the Commonwealth adopts the UCC, it is administered at the local level.

    The CRCA also administers the regional Sewage Management Program (SMP), adopted by the Centre Region municipalities through the Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan. This program is administered in fivesix municipalities: State College Borough, College, Harris, Ferguson, Patton, and Halfmoon Townships. There are approximately 3,100 properties included in the program area. The program consists of the one-time in-tank inspection of all on-lot sewage disposal systems in the first six years of the program and the walkover inspection of all systems every six years after that. In addition, the SMP ensures that all septic systems are pumped every three years following the Act 537 plan. The SMP is currently in its twelfth year.

    To streamline the development process for single-family houses, enhance customer service, and reduce the time and cost associated with construction, the Agency provides SEO (sewage enforcement officer) services for College, Ferguson, and Halfmoon Townships and the Borough of State College. In addition, six staff members have been trained and certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection (DEP) as SEOs in the Commonwealth of PA.

 

  • Existing Structures Program – The CRCA inspects all rental housing, commercial properties, schools, hospitals, industrial buildings, and care facilities to ensure safety. These are inspected to the Centre Region Building Safety & Property Maintenance Code (CRBS & PMC) and, by reference, the International Fire Code standard. This code standard is not adopted statewide and is amendable through the adoption of a municipal ordinance. The CRCA conducts inspections of the 21,167 rental units in the participating municipalities (does not apply to Halfmoon Township). Although there is some variation, all rental housing units are inspected every three years at a minimum, fraternities every six months, and rental housing units with a history of multiple violations annually.

    The CRBS & PMC also includes the standard that governs the drilling and construction of wells and boreholes. The participating municipalities adopted these standards to protect the aquifer, which supplies drinking water to most residents in the Centre Region and neighboring municipalities.

    CRCA Fire Inspectors conduct plan reviews and inspections of fire protection systems, including automatic sprinkler and alarm systems, ensuring that building egress is maintained, verifying compliance with the provisions of the International Fire Code, and inspecting the common areas of apartment buildings. In addition, Fire Inspectors provide a range of life safety programs for businesses, schools, fraternities, daycare facilities, and industries.

    The CRCA also administers the regional Sewage Management Program (SMP),which was adopted by the Centre Region municipalities through the Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan. This program is administered in five of the seven municipalities: College, Harris, Ferguson, Patton, and Halfmoon Townships. There are approximately 3,100 properties included in the program area. The program includes the one-time in-tank inspection of all on-lot sewage disposal systems in the first six years of the program and the walk-over inspection of all systems every six years thereafter. In addition, the SMP ensures that all septic systems are pumped every three years in accordance with the Act 537 plan. The SMP is currently in its tenth year and its walk-over inspection phase was transitioned to the Existing Structures Program in 2016.


The Public Safety Committee provides policy oversight for the CRCA, Regional Fire Protection, and Emergency Management Programs. The Committee is comprised of one elected official from each participating municipality and meets monthly to give direction on significant policy, program, and financial topics.

Property owners and contractors may appeal decisions of the code official to the Centre Region Building and Housing Code Board of Appeals. The Public Safety Committee voted to restructure the CRB&HCBA membership in 2021. The restructuring reduced the Board from 17 members to seven. The Public Safety Committee recommends to the General Forum individuals to serve on the Board, and the General Forum refers these nominations to the participating municipalities for appointments. For appeals generated in the Borough of Bellefonte, the Borough has chosen to appoint its own Appeals Board to hear appeals regarding the CRBS & PMC. For those regarding the UCC, the Borough of Bellefonte utilizes the Centre County Board of Appeals.

The CRCA often is used as an example of a model regional code program. The Agency is financially self-supporting, service levels exceed state recommendations, and it emphasizes educating the community about code standards. Additionally, the CRCA is the largest regional code agency in Pennsylvania as measured by the value of new construction and the number of rental units inspected. The code administration provided to the participating municipalities has resulted in an outstanding safety record as measured by fire loss, structural failures, and a high standard of property maintenance. A large part of this success can be attributed to the skills and experience of the regional code program’s personnel. The CRCA staff is very experienced and highly trained in the building construction industry and has earned an average of over 14 nationally recognized building inspection and fire safety certifications.

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) is a nationally recognized provider of information for the insurance industry. Every four years, the ISO issues a rating of the CRCA building and fire code officials, benchmarking the level of safety that can be expected of the Code Agency against a national standard.Further, the Agency is rated separately on the commercial and residential (one and two-family homes) activities. The rating ranges from one to ten, with one being the highest rating. In May 2014 and Spring of 2019, the ISO rated the CRCA, and the CRCA has improved to be the only code agency in the Commonwealth to have a commercial rating of one and a residential rating of two. This high distinction may result in insurance savings for those who have property insurance in the area covered by the CRCA. The commercial rating level of 1 has only been earned by a total of 11 code agencies nationwide.

 

To effectively administer code services, the CRCA had the following staff as of June 30, 2021:

Full-Time

Administration:

  • Agency Director (a position shared between New Construction and Existing Structures Programs)
  • Office Administrator (the New Construction Program funds position)
  • Codes Services Manager (new in 2018, expected to be filled by Fall; the New Construction Program funds position)


New Construction Program:

  • Division Manager – New Construction (1)
  • Commercial Plans Examiners (2)
  • Commercial Plans Examiners/Inspectors (7)
  • Commercial Electrical Inspectors (3)
  • Permit Program Technician (1)
  • Staff Assistant (2)

(Note: this program reimburses the Existing Structures program for commercial fire inspections)

 

Existing Structures Program:

  • Division Manager – Fire & Life Safety (1)
  • Fire & Life Safety Inspectors (7)
  • Permit Program Technician (1)
  • Staff Assistant (1)



WHAT DO WE DO?

The work objectives of the CRCA are to provide the following services:

  • Conduct professional building plan reviews to ensure compliance with the statewide building code.
  • Perform construction, fire, and rental housing inspections.
  • Undertake staff training with an emphasis on professionalism, code standards, and helpful public service.
  • Provide responsive, timely, and efficient code administration management.
  • Assist the participating municipalities in resolving building or code-related issues.
  • Educate the building community and permit applicants on issues associated with the building code and built environment.
  • Educate the public on fire and life safety issues.
  • Administered and managed the regional Sewer Management Program and maintained compliance with the Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan provisions.
  • Provide Sewage Enforcement Officer Services.


The following sections express the goals and the related work objectives (contributions) common to the Agency. Later sections will detail the individual contributions and work objectives of the New Construction and Existing Structures programs.

 

 A.  Provide staff training with an emphasis on professionalism, code standards, and public service.

 Ongoing Contributions…

  • Conduct monthly or more frequent meetings with major stakeholders (owners, design professionals, contractors, commercial tenants, and other municipal officials). These meetings are beneficial to better coordinate inspection activity and proactively address issues associated with compressed construction schedules and phased occupancy considerations on large projects.
  • Conduct weekly inspector meetings on code topics such as uniform code interpretations, field problems, inspection techniques, single-family electrical systems, sprinkler systems, plumbing, and mechanical installations. In addition, division managers review large commercial projects with plans examiners to ensure that inspections are performed consistently among the inspectors.
  • Provide cost-effective, high-quality training opportunities for staff to increase the level and number of professional certifications and the overall quality of the service provided by the Agency. The Agency Director and Senior Management Team monitor the training of inspection staff to ensure that they maintain their inspection certifications and promote continued educational growth in their areas of expertise.
  • Conduct meetings with local design professionals to discuss code-related issues, including structural load calculations and mechanical engineering issues.
  • Using the CRCA website to inform the public of policy and procedural changes and solicit feedback regarding customer service and measures to improve effectiveness and responsiveness to customer needs.
  • Facilitate nationally recognized training sessions for CRCA staff, design professionals, and the general public in the Centre Region at a reasonable cost.
  • Establish an in-house training center certified to provide continuing education to design professionals, contractors, and building code officials certified through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and as a Preferred Education Provider through the International Code Council. These training programs are conducted in the COG Building and elsewhere and are open to the construction community.

 

 B.  Manage the Code Administration in a manner that is financially accountable and self-supporting through permits and fees.

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Work with the Public Safety Committee, COG Office of Administration staff, and local builders to monitor building permit fees. The goal of the CRCA is to remain financially self-supporting in the future. Since 2011, COG finance has taken additional actions to organize the CRCA as an enterprise fund that provides the Centre Region with code services using permit fees that fully support all agency expenditures.
  • Continually monitor the municipal fee schedules for building permits, fire permits, and rental housing permits to ensure that the fees cover all direct and indirect expenses and ensuring the municipalities have properly adopted the schedules.
  • Offer an electronic building permit application and invoicing system to eliminate the need for applicants to visit the Code Office for over-the-counter permits that do not require plan review.
  • Verify that contractors obtain worker’s compensation insurance in compliance with state law; collect a $5 filing fee at the time of insurance renewal or filing. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry requires that code agencies compile this information to ensure contractors protect their employees.
  • Conduct and manage financial activities within budget guidelines, and revenue received to produce an appropriate capital reserve fund and cash balance to finance agency operations during periods of low construction activity. (For example, a month during the winter.)
  • Collect the $4.50 surcharge levied by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under Act 45 of 1999 from building permit applicants for each permit issued. Completing quarterly reports and forwarding those reports along with the $4.50 surcharge to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I). The monies collected by the L&I fund training and continuing education programs for construction code officials, design professionals, contractors, and individuals involved with implementing and enforcing the UCC throughout the state.
  • Based on cycle year, invoice, process payments, and schedule inspections for the Sewage Management Program.
  • Permit and inspect new and malfunctioning septic systems. Review DEP planning modules and perform required testing for sub-divisions.
  • Continue efforts to identify and install a comprehensive software package used regionally for zoning, planning, land development activities, and the CRCA to manage workflow, schedule inspections, and track permits more efficiently.

 

 C.  Provide community education and outreach regarding Code Administration programs and ensure that municipal officials are
       well-informed about building code issues.

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Prepare monthly activity reports on new construction activity and rental housing inspection activity for the Public Safety Committee, municipal managers, and the general public.
  • Working with the participating municipalities ensures that work done in the area has been permitted by zoning and the building code departments.
  • Review the effectiveness of codes based on local and national trends and investigating new building practices (e.g., sustainable buildings).
  • Actively survey the permit holders to determine the perceived level of service provided by the Agency.
  • Continuing to monitor and update the Centre Region codes to comply with state and national standards.
  • Participate in public outreach programs such as Ferguson Township’s annual Open House Program, the Lion Walk, the Lion Bash, the Community Resources Fair in State College Borough, Special Olympics, Patton Township Safety Fair, and the Bellefonte Children’s Fair.
  • Continually update the Agency’s webpage (www.crcog.org/codeadministration) to enable the public to access code information, agency procedures, upcoming educational programs, and changes in code ordinances.
  • Provide low-cost, high-quality fire safety training for childcare providers to meet the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania licensure requirements.
  • Actively participate in planning the Lion Bash in the Borough of State College to welcome and orient new students to the community.
  • Actively participate with the Pennsylvania Review and Advisory Council to review and comment on current and proposed legislation to modify the building code provisions and regulations.


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

  • Electronic Archiving: In keeping with the recommendations of the 2010 operational study and the move to electronic equipment in the field, the CRCA has moved toward archiving plans and design documents in electronic format. The shift to electronic storage involves the scanning of all design documents and permit records. The first step in this process is the electronic archiving of the existing structures permitting and inspection information. It was determined after additional discussion that TRAISR would create a pass-through contract with a third-party scanning vendor to provide this service, providing for single-source responsibility and integration. It was found that there is no additional annual cost for the storage going forward and is included in the base TRAISR contract cost.

    As part of the document scanning implementation, there is a contract cost to convert the existing rental housing and fire permit data to electronic format. The conversion involves scanning all the legacy permit and inspection data and establishing the electronic folder system to store this data. The cost of the initial data conversion and system configuration is $25,000. The initial year contract amount was carried over to 2023 and is proposed to be a reoccurring cost moving forward to transition to electronic data storage.

  • TRAISR – As a result of the two-year regional software study, the Working Group recommended that TRAISR be selected for use as the regional software package. TRAISR is a division of McMahon Associates based in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. The software package is a cloud-based solution and can manage permits and inspections, citizen information access, work orders, asset control, fleet management, and land use information. The contract negotiations resulted in a 10-year contract for use by the CRCA and the participating municipalities.

    In 2022 and 2023 the TRAISR team worked with the regional partners to implement the system, import current data files, test the system setup, and go live. The heavy lifting during implementation is being shouldered by the TRAISR team, in stark contrast to how Tyler, Munis Software was implemented.

    The contract allows the system to be used by CRCA and the seven regional partners. The shared system will provide the ability to share data and work more efficiently while providing an increased level of customer service. The first-year cost is significant due to implementation expense, data conversion, system testing, and training. Like the current Tyler system, the CRCA is proposing to carry all of the project’s costs except for any additional hardware that individual partners may choose for use with the GPS module, any ESRI licenses, any custom reporting or data migration, or fleet management modules.

    The cost of the program is as follows:

    Description  TRAISR  CRCA ESRI
    (Estimate)
    Total
    Implementation $290,000   $290,000
    Year 1 (Training and Testing) $27,450 $3,750 $31,200
    Total 2022 Cost     $321,200
    Year 2 (2023) $109,800 $15,000 $124,800
    Year 3 (2024) $113,094 $15,000 $128,094
    Year 4 (2025) $113,094 $15,000 $128,094
    Year 5 (2026) $116,487 $15,000 $131,487
    Year 6 (2027) $116,487 $15,000 $131,487
    Year 7 (2028) $119,982 $15,000 $134,982
    Year 8 (2029) $119,982 $15,000 $134,982
    Year 9 (2030) $123,581 $15,000 $138,581
    Year 10 (2031) $123,581 $15,000 $138,581


  • The CRCA was paying $10,432 for CityView and $144,800 for Munis, for a total of $155,232 annually. The use and payment of these two software packages was discontinued in 2023 after the import of legacy data from both programs into the TRAISR system, allowing a single point of data access by staff and providing for an annual operational savings of $30,432 in year two of the contract.

    As part of the TRAISR software package implementation, the CRCA will be implementing the ability to take electronic payments. The option for electronic payments has been requested by the building community for more than 10 years. In the past, it was decided that the need for electronic payments was not warranted. However, to fully take advantage of the TRAISR software package, electronic payments need to be leveraged. This will allow permit applicants, and owners to pay for services online and use many services around the clock when it is convenient for them. There is a cost for the convenience of online/electronic payments. The topic of electronic payments was discussed with the Finance Committee over several months in the spring of 2022, including specifically the 2.65% convenience fee. The Finance Committee resoundingly endorsed the acceptance of electronic payments with the convenience fees being paid by the permit applicant. 


To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 Chapter 13 - Code Administration - New Construction Budget

Updated – August 2021

 

WHAT DO WE DO?

 A.  Provide a comprehensive plan review and building construction inspection programs for the seven-member municipalities.

Ongoing Contributions…                                                                                      

  • Conducting building inspections, reviewing plans, issuing building permits, and issuing certificates of occupancy for new construction.
  • Issuing electronic permits and invoices to applicants. The electronic permit system allows applicants to apply for building permits that do not require plan review via email and return payments by mail.
  • Educating the public and the development community on any proposed updates to the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) and International Family of Codes.

 

 B.  Administer the Centre Region’s Sewage Management Program.
  • Administering the Sewage Management Program (SMP) for the Centre Region as required for compliance with the Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan approved by the Centre Region municipalities and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
  • Conducting a one-time in-tank inspection of on-lot septic tanks to evaluate compliance with program standards. Every three years on-lot septic systems must be pumped by a licensed septic hauler following the program requirements. CRCA staff perform the in-tank inspections to record the septic tank’s type and location.
  • Performing walkover inspections to confirm the septic system performance. Following the in-tank inspection, walkover inspections are scheduled every six years. The walkover inspections are performed to observe the drainage bed area for visible septic issues such as a swampy yard, overly green grass, and odors that could indicate a possible problem with the septic system.
  • Answering property owners’ questions or concerns about the SMP requirements, benefits, and procedures for proper septic tank maintenance.
  • Selecting and scheduling properties for inspection, prepare and issue pumping notices, and receive and record payments for inspection services.
  • Taking action to obtain compliance with program regulations. Non-compliance with the SMP is a violation of the municipal ordinances.
  • Working with Municipal Managers, Sewage Enforcement Officers, licensed haulers, Centre Regional Planning Agency staff, and property owners to identify, evaluate, and implement suggestions for quality improvements in the program’s administration.
  • Representing the municipalities with issues before DEP concerning the SMP. This includes preparing and submitting an annual program report and answering any questions resulting from that submission.

 C. Provide Sewage Enforcement Officer (SEO) services to four Centre Region Municipalities.
  • Sewage Enforcement Officer (SEO) for State College Borough and College, Ferguson, and Halfmoon Townships. Permitting new on-lot sewage disposal systems, investigating malfunctions, and correcting malfunctions.
  • Permit and inspect new and malfunctioning septic systems. In addition, review DEP planning modules and perform required testing for sub-divisions. Currently, there are six staff members with SEO certification.


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 Chapter 14 - Code Administration - Existing Structures Budget

Updated – August 2021

 

WHAT DO WE DO?

 Provide comprehensive Rental Housing and Fire Prevention Inspection Programs for the six-member municipalities.


All rental housing units are inspected on a three-year cycle. Fraternities are inspected semi-annually, and properties that have been identified as a “nuisance property” can be inspected annually. In addition, there are commercial spaces in the member municipalities that are subject to either the Centre Region Building Safety and Property Maintenance Code or the Borough of Bellefonte Safety and Property Maintenance Code. For the Fire Inspection Program, the commercial units are inspected on a 1, 3, or 5-year cycle based on the hazard level present in the structure.

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Conducting rental housing inspections to ensure compliance with the Centre Region Building Safety and Property Maintenance Code relating to health, safety, sanitation, and welfare, courteously and professionally.
  • Maintaining regular communications with the member municipalities on rental housing issues. For instance, the Existing Structures Program staff participates in joint inspections, refers complaints to other municipal departments, and works with property owners to bring their properties into compliance.
  • Holding weekly meetings with Life Safety & Fire Inspectors to discuss field problems, inspection techniques, and code interpretations.
  • Responding to complaints regarding unsanitary conditions, mold, sewer problems, and lead paint. Some of these matters are referred to the State College Department of Health for follow-up.
  • Working with tenants and landlords to maintain rental properties in a condition that is conducive to the quality of life in the neighborhood and to maintain a healthy and safe living environment for the tenants and their guests.
  • Participating in the investigation of fires in conjunction with the Centre Region Fire Marshal and Bellefonte Fire Department. The CRCA helps determine if a code violation may have contributed to a fire’s cause or severity. It also helps determine if a structure's code compliance helped minimize a fire through early detection or early suppression.
  • Utilizing the Fire Safety Sprinkler trailer for public education programs. The CRCA provides public education programs to elementary schools, civic organizations, property owner groups, businesses, and industrial workers throughout the member municipalities. When the trailer is not in use, it is kept in a storage building located in the Ferguson Township public works area. The lease began in 2016 and is for a ten-year term.
  • Providing technical assistance to property owners relating to electrical, plumbing, or mechanical systems and conducting training with local service and maintenance contractors relating to heating system maintenance, carbon monoxide detection, and water damage mitigation techniques.
  • Administering the International Fire Code through the Centre Region Building Safety and Property Maintenance Code to all commercial properties, including all business offices, mercantile, assembly, and industrial use occupancies. This includes conducting after-hours field inspections of bars and restaurants to ensure that they are not over-occupied or have blocked exits.
  • Conducting reviews of building plans for fire protection systems such as automatic sprinklers and alarm systems. Staff also performs inspections of these systems to ensure that they are installed and maintained in compliance with the code.
  • Increasing the overall health and safety of the Centre Region through the administration of the adopted applicable building, property maintenance, and fire codes and coordinating with the health department to identify and provide guidance on the mitigation of conditions that could compromise the health and safety of residents and visitors of the Centre Region.
  • Responding to emergency incidents when requested to provide expertise in structural engineering and other building systems regarding the overall safety of a structure that may have been compromised due to fire, car crash, or other destructive factors. This service is provided 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Continue to maintain and update the Centre Region Building Safety and Property Maintenance Code (CRBS & PMC) and educate the public on its application and use. In addition, this document has been made available on the CRCA website, with links being provided to the municipalities to allow for greater client and public access.
  • Maintaining and investigating ways to enhance the emergency call-out procedure to ensure that the CRCA staff has a rapid response to all code-related emergencies such as fires or structural failures regardless of the time of day.
  • Responding to tenant complaints. Responding to complaints is challenging for the Agency and may take precedence over regularly scheduled inspections.
  • Providing assistance and offering technical information to owners of commercial establishments regarding the correction of Fire Code deficiencies and the installation of fire suppression and protection systems.
  • Using the fire extinguisher module within the community education program to teach the proper use of fire extinguishers in a live fire. The unit is used in the education program for businesses, homeowners, college students, teachers, and industry.
  • Reviewing and updating fire safety programs that target local businesses, school-aged children, off-campus housing fraternities, daycare workers, and senior groups.
  • Exploring new methods such as developing a professionally produced video for educational outreach to new target audiences, including rental housing property managers, realtors, and maintenance staff.
  • Offering opportunities for childcare providers to attend fire safety training as required by the state. Upon completion, the attendees receive a certificate of attendance stating that they received training in the maintenance of smoke detectors, the duties of facility persons during a fire drill or during a fire, and the use of fire extinguishers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff offered the training via ZOOM.


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 Chapter 15 - Code Administration - Capital Budget

Updated – August 2021

MISSION

The Centre Region Code Administration (CRCA) Capital Budget was established to finance: investment in replacing and upgrading in renovating information management systems, office space, fleet vehicles, and major equipment.


WHO ARE WE?

The Centre Region Code Administration (CRCA) was created in 1968 by the Articles of Agreement adopted by the participating municipalities (State College Borough and College, Ferguson, and Patton Townships) as a building and plumbing inspection agency. Electrical inspection services were added to the program in 1980, and by the mid-1980s, the four municipalities also participated in the CRCA’s Rental Housing Program. Harris Township joined the regional building and plumbing inspection service programs in 1990 and the Rental Housing Program in 2001. With the adoption of the Uniform Construction Code of Pennsylvania in 2004, Halfmoon Township joined the New Construction Program but chose not to participate in the Rental Housing or Commercial Fire Inspection Programs of the CRCA. In May 2014, the Bellefonte Borough signed a three-year agreement with the Centre Region COG to provide CRCA inspection services, including new construction, rental housing, and commercial fire inspections beginning July 1, 2014. In May 2017, Bellefonte Borough Council voted to extend the service agreement CRCA until January 1, 2021.

The CRCA is entirely funded through building, rental housing, fire permits, and sewer management fees. No tax monies have been used to finance the Agency in over 40 years. The CRCA reimburses the COG for the financial, human resource management, and administrative services it receives from the Office of Administration.


WHAT DO WE DO?

The Centre Region Code Capital Budget finances CRCA capital investments. Capital monies are used to acquire and maintain information management systems, fleet vehicles, training equipment, and furniture. The Code Capital Budget was added to the Centre Region Council of Governments (COG) Detailed Budget for the first time in the 2012 Budget. The Code Capital expenditures are:

  • Reviewed by the Public Safety Committee.
  • Identified in the COG Capital Improvement Plan.
  • Reviewed and approved by the COG General Forum through the annual budget process.
  • Expenditures from this budget are made according to COG’s purchasing procedures, including joint purchasing programs when available.

 


 

 Chapter 16 - Schlow Centre Region Library - Operating Budget

Updated – April 2023


MISSION

Schlow Centre Region Library is The Centre of Reading and Learning. We value community, diversity, excellence, integrity, and innovation.


WHO ARE WE?

The Schlow Centre Region Library (SCRL) is the public library serving the Borough of State College and College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris, and Patton Townships. These municipalities had a population of 95,863 residents, according to the 2020 Census Bureau estimates. Located in the Borough of State College, the Library is a Centre County Federation of Public Libraries member. This public library system includes the Centre County Library & Historical Museum (CCLHM) and its branches. Since 2008, Schlow Library has been the District Library Center (DLC) for the Central Pennsylvania District serving public libraries in Centre, Clearfield, Juniata, and Mifflin Counties. DLCs receive additional state funding to provide leadership, collections, training, and support to the public libraries within their district. The Library operates under the Pennsylvania Library Code, State Library regulations, and County and District agreements for library service.

The Library is a non-profit corporation that is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees appointed by the governing bodies of the Centre Region municipalities in accordance with the Council of Governments (COG) Library Articles of Agreement. A separate, non-profit Schlow Library Foundation (SLF) provides volunteer, financial, and advocacy support to supplement COG and state financial contributions.

The Library employs 19 full-time and 16 part-time employees, as well as 15-20 part-time library pages assisted by approximately 100 volunteers. There are 11 professional (Masters of Library Science) librarians on staff, most serving as managers. Employees receive at least six hours of continuing education annually, exceeding state requirements. SCRL employees are active leaders in professional and community organizations, and the Library has won numerous local, state, and national awards and grants for its programs.


WHAT DO WE DO?

The SCRL is a popular destination for Centre Region residents and offers free parking for its users. Users can browse over 175,000 books and media and use public computers and Wi-Fi while working, playing, or relaxing individually or in groups. Adults and teens enjoy the amenities of the second-floor gathering spaces, as well as local features that include the one-of-a-kind Pilato Chess Set. Award-winning Adult, Teen, and Children’s Services foster community, family fun, social skills, and lifelong literacy skills and provide age-appropriate programming throughout the year. At the same time, the Betsy Rodgers Allen Art Gallery and Teen Gallery Space feature the work of local artists, and community groups hold gatherings in the reservable Event Spaces.

In addition to the library facilities, the SCRL maintains a critical digital branch website, schlowlibrary.org featuring free eBooks and eAudiobooks, magazines, music, movies, tutoring, and resources for learners of all ages, as well as providing account management, book reviews and recommendations, event registration, and program calendars. SCRL maintains this dynamic digital branch with a vigilant eye on best practices for privacy, security, and user experience.

The SCRL offers many cultural and educational programs such as preschool storytimes, children’s STEM activities, author visits, concerts, and lectures. The Library promotes community reading all year through Centre County Reads in the spring, BookFest PA (as part of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts), Summer Reading Programs for every age group, and FrostFest in the winter.

Additional services include seven remote book returns, interlibrary loan of items not carried in the Library’s collection, speakers for community groups, as well as delivery of items to homebound residents, the local school district, local university, multiple retirement homes, remote book lockers, and other educational and outreach locations. SCRL, in partnership with CCLHM, enables automatic item renewals and does not assess late fees to provide all Centre County residents equitable access to library resources.

The following are highlights of the Library’s current strategic and District long-range plan and services.



 A.  Centre Region’s Living Room
  • In 2022, 170,837 visits were recorded for Schlow Library, a 37,000-square-foot, two-story building open to the public 62 hours per week. Maintaining the appeal, safety, and cleanliness of this popular facility is a high priority. Schlow Library contracts with the Borough of State College for building services, including facility management, maintenance, parking support, and security camera management.
  • An average of 67 community groups hold more than 260 meetings and events in the Schlow Library event spaces. The Library actively partners in State College events, including BookFest PA during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, First Night, Centre County Reads, local history programming, Hidden Happy Valley, and more. 
  • Schlow Library maintains Internet service for all county public libraries and interconnectivity to municipal networks and resources. Schlow offers free access to 25 computers for adults and children and yearly provides over 25,000 free Wi-Fi sessions.

 

 B.  Community Connectivity
  • Through our nationally recognized partnership with the State College Area School District, students automatically receive a Schlow library card making Schlow online and print resources available to all elementary, middle, and high school students for free. 
  • Schlow collaborates with community partners to provide additional service opportunities, including Penn State Libraries, State College Area School District, Strawberry Fields, Leadership Centre County, Central PA SCORE, Happy Valley LaunchBox, 3Dots Downtown, the Centre Foundation, PSU Student Groups, and many other organizations.  
  • Book, craft, writing, and other Library clubs provide social and educational connections for residents with no fees, contracts, or obligations. These include support of the longstanding Nittany Valley Writers’ Network, chess, and board gaming programs, and the award-winning ESL Book Club. 
  • The Library provides market and business resources, including access to Reference Solutions, to support local business and nonprofit development.
  • Community Tech Help: Schlow library’s IT department has introduced office hours for free drop-in technology advice, specializing in helping regional not-for-profits and small businesses identify, plan and react to a rapidly evolving technology landscape.

 C.  We Are Where You Are
  • The curated Library collection has over 175,000 items for loan. Readers can choose from e- and print titles, audiobooks and magazines, large print and book club kits, DVDs, toys, museum passes, and games. Library staff maintains the collection by ordering, cataloging, and processing over 1,000 new materials monthly, in addition to withdrawing outdated and worn items on an ongoing basis. Maintaining a high-quality catalog of materials makes the library collection more accessible. Schlow empowers patrons' usage by providing online records for print materials and links to electronic materials via the virtual branch. In addition to providing records for materials for Schlow’s holdings, records are also curated for all CCLHM locations.
  • Library users can return items in convenient and secure bins located at the Nittany Mall in College Township, Weis Market (Hills Plaza) in College Township, Giant (North Atherton Street) in Ferguson Township, Clearfield Bank and Trust (Route 45) in Ferguson Township, Uni-Mart (Carson’s Corner) in Patton Township, and Brothers Pizza (Stormstown) in Halfmoon Township as well as through Penn State University book drops, or the School District libraries. 
  • Deliveries of reserved materials are made to Foxdale Village (State College Borough) and The Village at Penn State (Patton Township), Penn State University, as well as to every school in the State College Area School District via Schlow’s award-winning Schlow to School program. 
  • Over 20,665 people connected to over 603 programs, including storytimes and lectures, in 2022. Schlow staff also take some programs into the community, such as outreach storytimes to local childcare centers, book discussions at the Active Adult Center, and even staffing a book tent at the Pine Grove Mills Farmers Market during the summer months.

 D.  Children to Leaders
  • More than ever, children and teens need books to support their social-emotional learning, personal well-being, and learning challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and other community uncertainties. Our librarians continue to develop book collections that contain stories that serve as windows and mirrors into people’s lives from a wide range of places, ethnic backgrounds, and experiences, as well as nonfiction titles that support their learning goals and interests.
  • As the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to become known, we recognize the need to review and redesign our children’s programming schedule to better fit families’ needs as they adapt to changing work demands and family dynamics. We added new Saturday baby storytimes at the beginning of 2023 that have proven quite popular thus far and are planning for additional Saturday programming during the Summer Reading Program.
  • We aim to support families right from birth with the recent addition of a Nursing and Lactation Space located in the Children’s Department so nursing parents can more easily utilize our resources while caring for their children. Beginning in 2023, Schlow Library will partner with Mount Nittany Medical Center to include a brochure about the library in every New Baby Packet that goes home with families.

 

 E.  Finances and Foundation
  • Annual donations are received by the Library or the SLF from various sources, including an annual year-end appeal, the Centre Foundation’s Centre Gives online campaign, donations from individuals, and memorial and honor contributions. 
  • When estate gifts are received, they are typically invested through the SLF for future capital needs and emergencies. Others are specifically set aside for upcoming capital projects. 
  • The SLF is an integral part of the success of the library's ability to fundraise. This non-profit organization focuses on fundraising, advocacy, and investments to support the annual operating and future needs of SCRL. Annually, with support from Library staff, the SLF raises about $250,000, covering fundraising and operational expenses, with an annual transfer of $190,000 to the SCRL for operations. This transfer contributes to material purchases and operational expenses.

 

 F.  Support Central PA District Libraries
  • SCRL is a District Library Center, a regional library leadership designation made by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries (OCL). Although district funds can only be used to benefit the entire district, this classification provides direct advantages to SCRL users, including eBook service software, children’s programs, and library-by-mail (homebound) service. The Library receives dedicated state funding and grants to provide training, services, and materials to all public libraries in Centre, Clearfield, Juniata, and Mifflin Counties. It also supports information technology services and interlibrary loan shipping expenses. In 2022, 20,800 items were borrowed for Schlow Library patrons from other libraries, and 16,625 were lent to other libraries.

 

OF PARTICULAR NOTE

Fundraising: Fundraising at the Library is an organization-wide priority. All staff receive training and are involved in donor stewardship at various levels, from service desks to website support to donation acceptance. Donors continue to offer positive praise for the work of the Library and the library’s role in their lives and continue their support as they can. The Schlow Library Foundation continues to grow by welcoming new members and furthering its fundraising efforts. In addition to the successful fall fundraising appeal and the active participation in the Centre Gives fundraising event, the SLF focuses on creating relationships, further promoting monthly giving and the Bella Schlow Legacy Society, and exploring ways that board members can fundraise through community partnerships and corporate fundraising events.

Rising Book Prices: Publishers charge libraries premium prices for eBooks and eAudiobooks (up to $90 a copy) that periodically expire and are repurchased for the collection if patron demand warrants. Much more than what consumers pay, digital content remains a priority for the Library. SCRL strives to meet heavy customer demand by maintaining streaming resources that include bestselling content without a waitlist. Still, the high cost of digital content means collection funds for electronic collections don’t purchase the same quantity as print collection funds. The Library budget continues to be strained by the need to buy and maintain materials in multiple digital, print, and audio formats.

Halfmoon Township: Due to Halfmoon Township’s withdrawal from the COG Library Articles of Agreement effective at the end of 2023, the book drops at Brother’s Pizza and Carson’s Corners and the book lockers at Ways Fruit farm will be removed and or/ reallocated to serve the patrons of member municipalities best. SCRL staff are evaluating what electronic resources must be limited to patrons in the Harris, Patton, Ferguson, College Townships or the State College Borough. Additionally, SCRL will begin to transit fewer new materials throughout the county to save collection, staff, and shipping costs. Other measures may need to be taken as well.

Book Quality and Longevity: Libraries continue to feel the impact of book publishing changes. Publishers lower the quality of materials while trying to maintain their profits by decreasing supply costs such as paper and glue standards in newer publications. The increasing need to replace, mend, or repurchase items that are still fairly popular impacts the funds available for purchasing additional materials for the community. 



WHERE ARE WE GOING?

For current information on future programmatic changes and budget impacts please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 Chapter 17 - Schlow Centre Region Library - Capital Budget

Updated – April 2023


MISSION

Schlow Centre Region Library is The Centre of Reading and Learning. We value community, diversity, excellence, integrity, and innovation.


WHO ARE WE?

The Schlow Centre Region Library (SCRL) is the public library that serves State College Borough and College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris, and Patton Townships.

The Public Library was established in 1957 in two rooms of an old house on West College Avenue in State College, which was provided rent-free by a local businessman, Charles Schlow. In 1967, Schlow Library moved to a location at 100 East Beaver Avenue, the former State College Post Office site. The Library began as a State College Borough operation, but it is now supported by the Borough and College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris, and Patton Townships via the Centre Region Council of Governments. In February 2004, the Library moved to 118 South Fraser Street, the former State College Municipal Building, to allow a new library to be built on the Beaver Avenue and Allen Street site. The current facility at 211 South Allen Street opened in October 2005. It includes space the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) uses as its customer service office.


WHAT DO WE DO?

The SCRL Capital Fund finances the Library’s two-story 38,577 square foot facility and 68-space public parking lot. On average, more than 205,000 people visit the Library annually: browsing and borrowing reading material and media, using public computers and Wi-Fi, working privately or in groups, and attending community meetings and educational events. An average of 67 community groups reserve indoor and outdoor event spaces annually. The Library building also includes the Betsy Rodgers Allen Art Gallery, game and craft areas, landscaping, and an outdoor public garden. The CATA’s customer service department occupies part of the building and can be accessed from Beaver Avenue. SCRL has been cited as a “destination place” and “Downtown’s Living Room” in community surveys and media.

Capital monies are also used to maintain a considerable array of vital library-related technology, even as expenses are trending away from capital towards operating as “tech as a service” becomes the more cost-effective approach in an accelerating landscape of emergent risks. Capital investments notably include: Schlow’s digital library branch, schlowlibrary.org, which supplies nearly one-third of total library transactions and content annually, wide-area networking with libraries and municipalities across Centre County, public computers, Wi-Fi service, customer and donor databases, collection inventory, parking, HVAC and security.

The Library Capital Budget began with funds remaining from 2004 capital campaign donations and was added to the COG Program Plan in the 2011 budget. New revenue is added through:

  • Annual municipal support. Until 2015, support came through transfers from SCRL’s Operating Budget to the Capital Budget. In 2015, direct municipal support to the capital fund was implemented based on the forecasts in the Capital Improvement Plan.
  • Major gifts and grants designated for capital needs. Library staff aggressively seeks grants for planned projects and uses estate gifts for capital improvements and technology purchases. The Schlow Library Foundation (SLF) has investments intended for long-term capital use.

  • Capital funds are invested by the Council of Governments (COG) or through the SLF to earn higher interest returns.


Schlow Library capital expenditures are:

  • Reviewed and approved by the Library Board of Trustees. Capital expenditures are subject to COG budget and purchasing procedures.
  • Made in accordance with the scheduled replacements and repairs recommended in the 2018 facility study and listed in the Library/COG Capital Improvement Plan, Technology, and Strategic Plans.
  • Updated via vendor provided project cost estimates while acknowledging the difficulty in providing concrete cost estimates for projects far into the future and the need to update costs as more information becomes available. 
  • Reviewed with the COG Facilities Coordinator and the Library’s facilities manager from the State College Borough Public Works Department as expert resources to ensure all facilities are safe, efficient, and compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.
  • Gauged as to their potential to cause unnecessary points of liability for visitors to Schlow’s property and facility. 
  • In the case of IT assets, tracked in a sophisticated inventory system that matches assets to industry-aligned depreciation schedules for the type of technology, and the library’s strategic-plan informed use-case.  When something has fully depreciated but is still useful, it is often replaced but moved into a lower tier of service where it can still perform valuable functions until it has reached the end of life. Whenever possible, fully functioning systems are kept in service beyond the initially expected depreciation.


WHERE ARE WE NOW?

COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts:
  • Some capital replacement expenses were delayed in 2020 and 2021 due to the state-mandated stay-at-home orders and the resulting backlog of work experienced by building service contractors, as well as the inability of staff to work in the building.
  • SCRL is choosing to separate the significant second-floor renovation project, approved in 2019, into phases due to the possibility of changing patron facility usage post-pandemic while prioritizing those aspects of the project that focus on safety and security.

 
Service Changes:

  • SCRL is seeing increased patron interest in providing remote library material pickup lockers as retailers begin offering pickup options for online shopping purchases.
  • SCRL will continue to work with regional partners (university, municipalities, county government, and local businesses) to gauge opportunities and strategically expand our electronic services, including Wi-Fi and circulating hotspots, for maximum impact to close the digital divide.


ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
  • COG Facility Coordinator: SCRL staff is working with the Facility Coordinator to ensure capital projects are bundled whenever possible.

 

WHERE ARE WE GOING?

For current information on future programmatic changes and budget impacts please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 

 


 

 Chapter 18 - Centre Regional Planning Agency - Budget

Updated – February 2024


MISSION

The Centre Regional Planning Agency (CRPA) guides regional and municipal efforts to create and sustain a vibrant, healthy, and economically diverse community by providing professional land use planning services that educate and inspire people to make the Centre Region a great place to live.

 

WHO ARE WE?

 


 

The Centre Regional Planning Agency provides a broad range of regional and local planning services to the Centre Region municipalities.


Regional Planning services include the preparation of the Centre Region Comprehensive Plan, Centre Region Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, and the Centre Region Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan, land use projections, model ordinances, mapping, and specialized studies in areas such as workforce housing.

Local Planning services include providing staff support to municipal officials and local Planning Commissions, reviewing land development plans and zoning changes, and drafting or revising municipal ordinances that relate to land use regulations. Through an Agreement of Relationship with Centre County, the CRPA fulfills the responsibilities of the Centre County Planning Commission, as defined under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. Centre County government reimburses the CRPA for some, but not all, of the costs associated with performing these planning services.

There is a long and successful history of coordinated planning in the Centre Region that has enabled our community to accommodate growth while avoiding incompatible land uses, protecting our natural resources, and maintaining a high quality of life. The six Centre Region municipalities have participated in Local and Regional Planning Programs since the mid-1960s. The Centre Regional Planning Commission (CRPC) initially administered the Regional Planning Program as a volunteer organization with no professional staff support. Today, a professional staff supports the CRPC, much as a municipal staff supports a Municipal Planning Commission.

Over the years, the Local and Regional Planning Programs have evolved. All six Centre Region municipalities continue to participate in the Regional Planning Program. As of 2025, State College Borough, Ferguson Township, and College Township now provide their own local planning staff, and Halfmoon Township utilizes independent consulting services. Harris and Patton Townships participate in the Local Planning Program as a cost-effective way of providing professional local planning services and integrating those services with the Regional Planning Program.


CRPA staff provides support services to many committees, including:

  • Centre Region Planning Commission
  • COG Land Use and Community Infrastructure Committee (LUCI)
  • COG Climate Action and Sustainability Committee
  • Source Water Protection Agreement Project Management Team
  • Climate Action and Adaptation Technical Advisory Group


The CRPA also houses the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO). The CCMPO Budget is prepared separately from the CRPA Budget for clarity.


To perform these services, the CRPA Budget provides for the following staffing:

  • Planning Director (85% CRPA, 15% CCMPO)
  • One Principal Land Use Planner
  • One full-time Land Use Planner
  • One full-time Sustainability Planner (90% CRPA, 10% CCMPO)
  • One full-time GIS Specialist - GIS (65% CRPA, 35% CCMPO)
  • Office Manager (50% CRPA, 50% CCMPO)
  • The Planning Director and the Principal Planner are certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

 

WHAT DO WE DO?

The CRPA advises regional and municipal decision-makers about land use planning efforts to create and sustain a vibrant, healthy, and economically diverse community. This includes long-range planning activities and projects for the Centre Region and current planning activities for the municipalities. The first Centre Region Climate Action and Adaptation Plan is expected to be completed in the fall of 2021. Implementing climate actions will be an increasingly important function of the Agency. The CRPA’s work tasks are divided into a Regional Planning Program and a Local Planning Program.

 

 A.  Regional Planning Program

This program is responsible for managing the preparation and implementation of the Centre Region Comprehensive Plan, the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, and the Centre Region Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan (in conjunction with the University Area Joint Authority). Other core services provided through the Regional Planning Program include the preparation of timely socioeconomic and demographic forecasts and trends, the management of the Regional Growth Boundary (RGB) and Sewer Service Area (SSA), and the provision of training programs to educate elected officials, planning commissioners, and the public on planning topics. The CRPA promotes and facilitates dialogue among the municipalities to develop cooperative solutions to regional issues, and all six Centre Region municipalities participate in the Regional Planning Program.

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Participation in the Source Water Protection Agreement Project Management Team – During 2021, the CRPA facilitated several meetings between the UAJA, the College Township Water Authority, and Penn State University to continue joint planning for source water protection. The authorities have agreed to meet four times annually to discuss issues of regional concern regarding Beneficial Reuse water. Changing weather patterns, growth pressures, and community support for protecting water resources have elevated the need to proactively strengthen source water protection in the Region. The CRPA believes the Agency will have a larger role in helping the governing bodies, authorities, and others organize for effective protection of source water in the Spring Creek Watershed in 2022 and future years. Risk Assessment to determine potential impacts and how to better protect source water in the Region.    
  • Timely and Relevant Demographic Information – The CRPA is a resource for a variety of demographic information and provides regular updates to the demographic data in the region.
  • Technical Resource Center –CRPA staff serve as the Centre Region’s technical specialists, and the Agency is the resource center for a variety of land planning and zoning topics, including open space preservation, ridge protection, contemporary zoning practices, riparian buffers, and other best practices in land planning and zoning. The Agency continues to assist some municipalities with preparing for the results of the 2020 U.S. Census.
  • The CRPA has continuously improved Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping and analysis for a variety of transportation and land use planning issues. The Agency has also made extensive use the “story mapping” to provide high-quality and informative project summaries that are available on the CRPA web page.
  • The Agency has substantially improved our visibility on social media and is continuing to improve these social media communications as requested by the residents of the Region.

 

 B.  Local Planning Program

This program provides staff support to individual Centre Region municipalities to address localized planning issues. CRPA staff also provides support to the municipal planning commissions. As of 2025, two municipalities participate in the CRPA’s Local Planning Program. Patton Township funds 40 percent of a local planning position and Harris Township funds 25 percent of a position. The Borough of State College, Ferguson Township, and College Township have their own planning departments to address local planning issues, Halfmoon Township utilizes an independent consultant, and the CRPA maintains a close working relationship with the three planning departments, the independent consultant, and the Centre County Office of Planning and Community Development. The CRPA staff also reviews municipal rezonings, zoning text amendments, and other items that require review as specified in the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC).


Ongoing Contributions…

  • Reviewing subdivision and land development plans.
  • Preparing zoning ordinance text amendments.
  • Reviewing rezoning applications from developers.
  • Providing professional planning staff to the governing body and planning commissions.
  • Address local issues and resident questions regarding planning and zoning.
  • Preparing ordinances and regulations to implement the Centre Region Comprehensive Plan.
  • Preparing special studies and small area plans related to specific issues or concerns within a municipality.

 

OF PARTICULAR NOTE

The completion of the CRPA Regional Planning Program Evaluation in 2015 identified several strategic areas that have strengthened the accountability of the Regional Planning Program and focused the CRPA on a series of five core service areas for the municipalities:

  • Implement the Centre Region Comprehensive Plan.
  • Maintain the Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan.
  • Provide demographic information.
  • Monitor the Regional Growth Boundary and Sewer Service Area.
  • Conduct educational programs on planning topics.
  • Implementation of the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan has been added to the CRPA’s primary responsibilities.


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 

 


 

 Chapter 19 - Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization - Budget

Updated – February 2024


MISSION

Federal law requires local and state officials in all designated urbanized areas of the United States to maintain a cooperative, continuous, and comprehensive transportation planning program, through a “metropolitan planning organization (MPO)”. In Centre County (State College Urbanized Area), this responsibility is fulfilled by the Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO), working in close cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Central and Engineering District 2-0 Offices.


WHO ARE WE?

CCMPO Coordinating Committee:

The policy-making body of 18 voting members comprised of elected and appointed officials from the following organizations:


Centre County Government (2)                                        Nittany Valley Planning Region

College Township                                                             Lower Bald Eagle Valley Planning Region

Ferguson Township                                                          Moshannon Valley Planning Region

Halfmoon Township                                                          Mountaintop Planning Region

Harris Township                                                                Penns Valley Planning Region

Patton Township                                                               Upper Bald Eagle Valley Planning Region

State College Borough                                                     Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA)

PennDOT Central Office                                                  Centre Regional Planning Commission (CRPC)

PennDOT District 2-0 Office


Non-voting members include:

Penn State University (PSU)

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Federal Transit Administration (FTA)


CCMPO Technical Committee:

The advisory committee provides comments and recommendations to the Coordinating Committee. Comprised of 18 voting members and three non-voting members from the same organizations as the Coordinating Committee.


Staff:

The Centre Regional Planning Agency (CRPA) is the lead staff support agency for the CCMPO, working cooperatively with the Centre County Planning and Community Development Office (CCPCDO), the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA), and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Central and Engineering District 2-0 offices.

The CCMPO Budget provides the following staffing in the CRPA to complete MPO-related work tasks:

Director

15%

One Principal Planner (Transportation)

100%

Two Senior Planners (Transportation)

100%

Transportation Grants Specialist

100%

Planner - GIS

35%

Sustainability Planner

10%

Office Manager

50%

       

 

 


The Planning Director, Principal Planner, and one Senior Planner are certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Along with the CRPA positions, one full-time Senior Transportation Planner at the CCPCDO provides staff support to the CCMPO. The CCPCDO Director, Assistant Director, other planners, and the Centre County Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff also provide occasional staff support to the CCMPO. In addition, the CATA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer; Assistant Executive Director for Operations; Director of Service Planning and Community Engagement; and Director of Finance complete public transportation planning tasks that support the CCMPO.

Revenue sources that finance staff and operational expenses include:

  • Federal and state funding is provided by PennDOT.
  • Funding and staff services provided by Centre County Government.
  • Funding is provided by the six Centre Region municipalities.
  • Funding provided by CATA.

 

Frequently Used Acronyms:

BPT

PennDOT’s Bureau of Public Transportation

LEP

Limited English Proficiency

BFB

Bicycle Friendly Business

LRTP

Long-Range Transportation Plan

BFC

Bicycle Friendly Community

MAP-21

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act

CATA

Centre Area Transportation Authority

MTF

Multimodal Transportation Fund

CBICC

Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County

PBPP

Performance-Based Planning and Programming

CCMPO

Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization

PEL

Planning and Environmental Linkages

CCOT

Centre County Office of Transportation Services

PennDOT

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

CCPCDO

Centre County Planning and Community Development Office

PMG

Potters Mills Gap

CRBAC

Centre Region Bicycle Advisory Committee

PPP

Public Participation Plan

CRPA

Centre Regional Planning Agency

SCAC

State College Area Connector

CRPC

Centre Regional Planning Commission

STC

Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission

FAST Act

Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act

TA

Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program

FHWA

Federal Highway Administration

TIP

Transportation Improvement Program

FTA

Federal Transit Administration

UPWP

Unified Planning Work Program



WHAT DO WE DO?

The CCMPO’s core responsibilities are focused on three broad areas that encompass the planning, prioritization, funding, and delivery of countywide, regional, and local transportation projects intended to improve safety and mobility, reduce congestion, preserve the existing transportation system, and facilitate economic vitality.

  • Preparing a Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP): The LRTP guides the allocation of federal, state, and local funds for projects and programs. The LRTP must address a minimum 20-year horizon and be updated no longer than every five years.

  • Developing a Short-Range Transportation Improvement Program (TIP): PennDOT and the CCMPO allocate funds to specific projects and programs through the TIP, which covers a four-year period based on the federal fiscal year. The TIP is updated every two years. The number of projects included in the TIP is constrained by limits on federal and state funding, which is allocated to the CCMPO by a statewide formula.

  • Assisting PennDOT, CATA, Centre County, and municipalities with specific transportation projects and programs:
    The CCMPO and its support staff provide input about a broad range of topics, including federal and state transportation funding policy; allocation of funding for projects and programs; design of roadway and bridge projects; planning for pedestrian and bicycle facilities; and delivery of public transportation services.

To fulfill the CCMPO’s core responsibilities, staff services are generally divided according to the following categories of tasks:

 

 A.  Planning/Programming

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Developing, adopting, and updating the Centre County LRTP. The Centre County LRTP 2050, which addresses a 30-year horizon, was adopted in September 2020. Work is scheduled to begin in early 2022 on a mid-term update of the LRTP 2050, with the update anticipated to be adopted in June 2023.
  • Developing, adopting, and amending the Centre County TIP. In 2021, staff worked with PennDOT to amend the 2021-2024 TIP and initiated work on the new 2023-2026 TIP, which is scheduled to be adopted in June 2022.
  • Providing transit planning services to CATA and the CCOT, including managing special public transportation planning studies financed by supplemental federal funding secured through a statewide competitive process.
  • Implementing high-priority actions in the Centre Region Bike Plan, such as coordinating with the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Agency to organize and teach bicycle education programs, maintaining the Centre Region’s Bicycle Friendly Community designation, and assisting municipalities in planning bicycle/pedestrian facilities.
  • Reviewing rezoning requests, development master plans, and subdivision and land development plans to ensure that the proposals are consistent with the goals, objectives, and policies in the LRTP 2050, the Centre Region Comprehensive Plan, and other municipal and multi-municipal comprehensive plans; and ensure that public transportation and pedestrian/bicycle elements are included.

 

 B.  Project Coordination

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Providing comments to PennDOT and municipalities about the design and implementation of highway and bridge projects. Examples include working with PennDOT, Ferguson Township, State College Borough, and Penn State University staff to disseminate information about construction activities for the Atherton Street Drainage/Repaving project; assisting Harris Township in determining the feasibility of implementing a “road diet” on Business Route 322 (Boal Avenue); assisting Spring Township and Bellefonte Borough in advancing the Route 150/Phoenix Avenue intersection project; and providing input about the development of alternatives for the State College Area Connector (SCAC) project in southcentral Centre County.

 

 C.  Administration
  • Preparing the CCMPO’s portion of the annual COG Budget, which details all revenue and operating expenditures associated with providing staff support.
  • Preparing the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), which lists work tasks that may be completed on behalf of the CCMPO and specifies the amount of federal and state funds provided by PennDOT to support staff activities. The UPWP is based on the PA state fiscal year and is prepared every two years.
  • Completing quarterly progress reports and submitting invoices to PennDOT for reimbursement of personnel and other operating expenses incurred in providing staff support to the CCMPO.
  • Administering legal agreements and periodic work orders between the Centre Regional Planning Commission (CRPC) and PennDOT which enables federal and state funding to be reimbursed for staff activities.
  • Preparing media advertisements, agendas, and minutes for CCMPO meetings. Each CCMPO Committee typically meets four or five times each year.
  • Maintaining the CCMPO’s website www.ccmpo.net and Facebook page, including posting meeting agendas, notices, and new information about key topics.
  • Updating the CCMPO’s Public Participation Plan (PPP), Limited English Proficiency Plan (LEP), and Title VI Complaint Process. As a recipient of federal funds, the CCMPO must comply with federal Environmental Justice and Title VI nondiscrimination regulations. The PPP, LEP, and Title VI process guide efforts to prevent discrimination and to ensure that procedures used to involve officials, citizens, and stakeholders in the CCMPO’s planning process are consistent with federal regulations. The CCMPO’s contact list of interested parties typically includes more than 200 officials and citizens.

 

OF PARTICULAR NOTE

  • The Centre County LRTP 2050 was adopted in September 2020. The plan development process included in-person meetings with each of the 35 municipalities in Centre County and several other key stakeholder groups that generated over 900 comments about policy areas, needs, and issues requiring attention. The LRTP 2050 also began to address new federal requirements for asset management and performance measures and included elements about emerging transportation options and technology. A mid-term update of the LRTP 2050 is scheduled to occur in 2022 and 2023. See www.crcog.net/lrtp2050.
  • The Centre Region was first designated as a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) by the League of American
  •  Bicyclists in 2012 and was redesignated in 2016. The CRPA led efforts to improve the Bronze level designation, and in December 2020, the League redesignated the Centre Region as a Silver level BFC.
    The CRPA also led efforts to have the Centre Region COG designated as a Bicycle Friendly Business,
    and is assisting municipalities in their requests to be designated as BFBs. See https://www.crcog.net/index.asp?SEC=669309BB-E644-4929-9E0B-3CFFC7D11E79.  
  • The CRPA continued to manage special transportation planning studies completed by CATA, including the Fare Analysis of Fare and Contract Structures and Policies Study that was completed in December 2020, and the CATA System Reimagine/Transportation Development Plan Study that will be completed in 2021 and 2022.
  • The CCMPO and PennDOT have allocated funding to advance projects to improve safety at three of the highest-priority intersections in the County. Completion of the Route 322 Potters Mills Gap project in late 2020 addressed the old Route 322/Route 144 intersection near the Village of Potters Mills in Potter Township. Projects to improve the Route 64/550 intersection near the Village of Zion in Walker Township and the Route 26/45 intersection in Ferguson Township will begin in 2021 and be completed in 2022 and 2023.
  • The CCMPO worked with federal and state legislators to advocate for major improvements to the existing I-80/I-99 Exit 161 (Bellefonte) Interchange in Spring and Marion Townships. Construction work is underway on the first of three elements comprising a new interchange complex at Exit 161, using discretionary funding from a nationally competitive program. See www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-2/ConstructionsProjectsAndRoadwork/Pages/SR26-Local%20Interchange.aspx.
  • The CCMPO also worked with state legislators to advocate for major roadway improvements in the southcentral area of Centre County around the Route 322/144/45 corridors. Discretionary state funding was committed for the State College Area Connector (SCAC) project, and preliminary engineering work began in 2019. A Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study is underway and will be completed in 2022. See www.PennDOT.gov/SCAC.

      

 

WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where Are We Now” and “Where Are We Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net for more information.

 


 

 

 Chapter 20 - Regional Refuse & Recycling Program - Budget

Updated – May 2024


MISSION

The purpose of the Centre Region Council of Governments (COG) Regional Refuse and Recycling Program is to promote public health, safety, and welfare and to eliminate public health hazards, environmental pollution, and economic loss in the participating municipalities through the collection, transportation, and disposal of residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional municipal solid waste.


WHO ARE WE?

Pennsylvania State Act 101 assigns municipal governments the responsibility of collecting, transporting, and storing refuse and recyclable materials that are generated within their boundaries. Benner, College, Ferguson, Harris, and Patton Townships use the COG as their designated agent to meet the statutory obligations in a cost-effective and responsible manner through a regional residential contract with a refuse and recycling vendor.

The COG Regional Refuse and Recycling Program is staffed by a Refuse and Recycling Administrator, who focuses on the administration of the refuse and recycling contract and serves as the solid waste ordinance designated agent for the participating municipalities. Compensation for the Program Administrator is funded through the contract administration fee paid to the COG by the contracted refuse hauler.

The Refuse and Recycling Program is entirely funded through the residential contract; costs equate to 4% of each resident’s monthly refuse and recycling bill paid by the contractor for the administration of this program. No tax monies have ever been used to finance the program since its inception in 1992. The Refuse and Recycling Program reimburses the COG for financial, human resources management, and administrative services it receives from the Office of Administration and the Centre Region Planning Agency.


WHAT DO WE DO?

The Refuse and Recycling Program has four main work objectives:

  1. Administer the Regional Refuse and Recycling Contract for residential collection for the participating municipalities.
  2. Seek ways to help control municipal, customer, and program costs.
  3. Educate, inform, and serve the residents of the participating municipalities for solid waste disposal.
  4. Develop and participate in projects to decrease solid waste through source reduction, reuse options, and greater residential and commercial participation in recycling.

 

 

 A.  Administer the Regional Residential Refuse and Recycling Contract for the participating municipalities.

 Ongoing Contributions…

  • Administer the service contract for residential curbside collection of refuse and recycling. As the designated agent for the participating municipalities, staff monitors the program and contracted hauler to ensure compliance with bidding specifications and to identify areas for improvement.
  • Assist the contracted hauler with collecting payment on delinquent and past due accounts and help the contractor identify any properties that are not participating in the program as defined under the conditions of municipal solid waste ordinances.
  • Support the regional haulers in the identification of residential and commercial property owners through the Centre County Web Information Access (WEBIA) system, which allows for an online owner search.
  • Assist the contracted hauler in generating solutions to consistent problematic situations, especially confusion regarding bulk waste items, yard waste, rental properties, and private lanes.
  • Educate residents about changes in the contract, which could include changes in cost through tipping fees and fuel prices, adjustments in the process for bulky item pick-up service, consistently applying the vacancy policy, any alterations in acceptable recyclables, and hauler acquisition or merger.
  • Monitor the needs and resources of current subsidy program participants who have severe financial hardship in paying for mandatory refuse and recycling service. An average of 35 households receive assistance through the hardship program each year.
  • Advise municipal managers and their communication specialists about issues, schedule changes, and problems that may impact service in the community, including, but not limited to pick up delays due to inclement weather or equipment breakdowns.

 

 

 B.  Seek ways to help control municipal, customer, and program costs.

  Ongoing Contributions…

  • Continue to keep the monthly rate for the contracted Refuse and Recycling Program low; the 2021 rate of $20.15 for standard 8-bag service was still below the average 1991 rate of $20.50 for non-contracted refuse service without adjusting for inflation. The contracted Refuse and Recycling Program monthly rate remains significantly lower than the rate being paid by residents of municipalities outside the program where there is not a single mandated hauler.
  • Procure refuse collection contracts through a competitive bidding process, thereby meeting state procurement rules and resulting in low costs for high-level services.
  • Assist the contracted hauler in maintaining the delinquent account rate at less than 1% using methods such as:Evaluate, promote, and provide support for financially and environmentally sustainable practices in our refuse program.
    • Suspending service on properties with 90 days past due bills.
    • Researching delinquent accounts to find resolutions to late payments.
    • Providing the contracted hauler with property owner information.
  • Evaluate, promote, and provide support for financially and environmentally sustainable practices in our refuse program.
  • Apply for appropriate DEP and other available grants.

 

 

 C.  Educate, inform, and serve the needs of residents in the participating municipalities for solid waste disposal.

 Ongoing Contributions…

  • Assist customers in the resolution of issues with their refuse or recycling services.
  • Maintain the Refuse and Recycling Program’s web pages to include pertinent information about refuse and recycling, holiday collection schedules, yard waste, and other useful links.
  • Work with the CCRRA to publicize its electronics recycling program, miscellaneous plastics drop-off program, and the annual household hazardous waste collection event.
  • Identify projects that help promote recycling and source reduction in the region. These projects are funded through earlier recycling rebates. Projects include leading classes in backyard composting that include subsidized composters for participants, education and outreach about recycling and organics reuse/recycling, and projects aimed at increasing organics recycling.
  • Assist the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority with maintaining a recycling program at local parks. Through the recycling rebate fund, recycling containers have been installed in seven high-use parks, William L. Welch and Park Forest Pools, the John Hess Softball Field Complex, Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, and Oak Hall Regional Park.
  • Provide advertising and public service announcements regarding holiday collection schedules and special item collections.
  • Contribute useful information about refuse and recycling to communications specialists serving the participating municipalities.
  • Participate in educational opportunities with other refuse and recycling professionals in the Commonwealth.
  • Work with other refuse and recycling professionals to identify common problems, areas of interest, and ways to work together.

 

 

 D.  Develop and participate in projects to decrease solid waste through source reduction, reuse options, and greater 
       residential and commercial participation in recycling.

 Ongoing Contributions…

  • Work in a collaborative relationship between COG’s Refuse and Recycling Program and the Centre Region Code Administration (CRCA) wherein educational materials are mailed to property owners with the following existing permits:
    • Commercial Recycling notices are sent with the fire permits to all building owners in January of each year.
    • Residential recycling notices are sent with all rental permits beginning in August of each year.
  • Work collaboratively to increase commercial recycling participation through the Recycle at Work Program, a joint effort between the CCRRA, COG’s Refuse and Recycling Program, and the State College Borough Public Works Department.
  • Create and distribute educational materials to help businesses understand the recycling process, requirements, and benefits. Industry-specific educational materials are available for restaurants, construction sites, and multi-family housing units.
  • Work with the Centre Regional Planning Agency, municipal zoning officers, and haulers to ensure that sufficient space for recycling containers and trash dumpsters is included during the design phase of building projects.
  • Develop and maintain outreach and educational materials focused on source reduction of all solid waste, with an emphasis on organic and reusable waste.
  • Work with area partners on reducing the landfilled volume of organic waste as one action item in solid waste sustainability goals.
  • Work with regional and county entities to find intersections of economic, social, and environmental sustainability in managing solid waste. For example, the program administrator serves on the Centre County Solid Waste Management Plan Advisory Committee.



OF PARTICULAR NOTE

 RESIDENTIAL CURBSIDE COLLECTION PROGRAM


In 1991, the Centre Region municipalities of College, Ferguson, Harris, and Patton decided that there was interest in providing residential refuse and recycling collection on a regional basis. To implement this decision, these municipalities authorized the COG to be their designated agent in conducting a competitive bidding process and administering a regional refuse and/or recycling contract as awarded to the successful bidder with exclusive rights to serve all residential buildings of four or fewer units. To this end, exclusive contracts have been awarded to haulers in 1992, 1995, 1998, 2004, 2010, 2015, 2020, and for 2025. Benner Township joined the program through the 2010 contract.

Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority (CCRRA) and COG have a Memorandum of Understanding that CCRRA will provide recycling service through the COG contract with the current hauler. In addition, CCRRA provides other services such as electronics recycling, education support, and an annual household hazardous waste event.

Services associated with the Regional Refuse and Recycling Program include:

  • Weekly refuse and recycling curbside collection
  • Curbside bulk waste collections
  • Christmas tree curbside collection
  • A hardship program for eligible customers
  • Customer advocacy in resolving problems with the hauler
  • Assistance to the contractor in recovering overdue customer payments
  • Enforcement of municipal solid waste and recycling ordinances

 

 ORGANICS


In 2015, the COG Public Services & Environmental (PSE) Committee began exploring opportunities within the refuse and recycling program that advances the sustainability of the region. Although the committee eventually determined that adding curbside organics collection to the refuse/recycling contract was not an economic or environmentally responsible way to handle organics at the time, the program administrator continues to explore and promote options to improve the regional refuse and recycling program and ways to enhance the sustainability of our community in terms of organic waste.

 

 PROGRAM OVERSIGHT

 
In 2020, the position of Refuse and Recycling Program Administrator transferred from the Office of Administration to the Centre Region Planning Agency (CRPA). This transition allows closer collaboration in addressing the sustainability goals in solid waste management included in the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. In 2021, direct oversight of the Refuse and Recycling Program transferred from the COG Public Services and Environmental Committee to the COG Climate Action and Sustainability Committee, prioritizing projects that address sustainability action items.



WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 Chapter 21 - Regional Fire Protection Program - Operating Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The mission of the Regional Fire Protection Program is to maintain a volunteer fire company to provide fire, rescue, and related services to the Borough of State College and the Townships of College, Ferguson, and Patton, a portion of Benner Township, and the University Park campus of Penn State University and to provide support and assistance as necessary to assure the delivery of quality services.


WHO ARE WE?

The Regional Fire Protection Program is a partnership comprised of three entities: Centre Region COG, State College Fireman’s Relief, and Alpha Fire Company, working together to provide high-quality, cost-effective fire protection and related services to the citizens of the Centre Region.



Composition of the Regional Fire Protection Program

The centerpiece of the Program is the Alpha Fire Company (Company), a nonprofit corporation that received its charter as a volunteer fire company in 1899. In addition to its established service area, the Company assists other area fire companies through mutual aid agreements during major emergencies. In 1998, a portion of the Company’s service area in College Township (Route 45) was transferred to the Boalsburg Fire Company because of this area’s proximity to the Boalsburg Fire Station.

The Company currently operates from three fire stations. The main fire station is in State College Borough and houses two rescue engines, an aerial truck, a heavy rescue, a firefighting ATV, a utility vehicle, a special response unit/brush, a traffic unit, and a tanker. The main station has a 23-person bunking capacity, office space for the entities, and serves as the primary location for company meetings and training. A second station was opened in Patton Township in 2001 with a ten-person bunking capacity. The Patton Township Station houses a rescue engine, a tanker, a utility truck, and an aerial truck. In 2002, a third fire station was opened in the lower level of the College Township Municipal Building, and bunking facilities for ten personnel were completed in early 2010. The College Township Station houses an engine, a quint, office space for the Fire Marshals, and a foam trailer which was obtained through federal funds and is used for large fires and incidents that involve flammable liquids. The Company also fields a decontamination trailer which was obtained through federal funds and is housed at the Ferguson Township Public Works Department. The Company’s HazMat response unit is housed on the Penn State Campus.

As a nonprofit corporation, the Company is governed by an Executive Board that is comprised of the Executive Officers and the elected Operational Officers of the Company. Executive Officers include the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Financial Secretary, and three Trustees. The Operational Officers include the Fire Chief, two Assistant Chiefs, a Health and Safety Officer, three Fire Captains, and five to six Fire Lieutenants. The Company’s Executive Officers and Chiefs are elected annually by the Company’s general membership. The COG General Forum confirms the election of the Chief Officers while Fire Captains and Lieutenants are appointed by the Fire Chief. Ten of the active members are sworn Fire Police Officers who assist the Company and local law enforcement as needed. The Company has several associate members, including Chaplains, the Company Attorney, an Auditor, a Photographer, and a Historian.

The Regional Fire Protection Program benefits significantly from funds that are provided through the Fireman’s Relief Association of State College (Relief). Relief is funded through a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania program that is administered by the state Auditor General which places a tax on fire insurance premiums. The state collects these funds and distributes them to local governments for the purpose of allocating them to their fire companies. The use of these funds is heavily restricted; they must be used for the health and safety of firefighters. Relief currently covers the cost of all personal protective equipment, supplemental insurance, training costs, portable radios, and specialty rescue equipment. Relief also contributes to the cost of apparatus and worker’s compensation insurance.

 

Volunteers:  Paid Staff:
Active Alpha Firefighters and Fire Police – 94            Fire Director
CRCOG Fire Marshal – 1 Office Manager (Shared with EM Program)
CRCOG Assistant Fire Marshals – 5 Assistant Chief – Operations and Training 
Alpha Associate Members – 5 Assistant Chief Operations and Field Services  
Hazmat Only Members – 6 Equipment Technician
  Summer Intern

                                                

The Fire Director leads the Regional Fire Protection Program. The program is funded by the Centre Region COG on behalf of the participating municipalities and Penn State University. The Office Manager provides direct support to all three entities involved in the Regional Fire Protection Program. The Director and Assistant Chiefs respond with the Company to emergency incidents.


WHAT DO WE DO?

 A.  Ensure the Alpha Fire Company has the facilities, equipment, and support necessary to accomplish its mission and continue to                provide fire protection to Centre Region residents in a cost-effective manner.
  • Develop and execute plans for recruiting and retaining volunteers.
  • Provide for the maintenance, repair, and upkeep of over $13 million of apparatus and equipment and three fire stations.
  • Ensure that carried equipment and tools are in safe and effective working order.
  • Provide a long-range capital plan for the replacement and/or addition of fire apparatus, computers, furnishings, and equipment.
  • Develop and review response plans to assure the needs of the community are being met through qualitative and quantitative analyses of responses and risks.
  • Develop and maintain strategic plans that are adaptable to changes in technology and the region’s demographics and economy to assure consistent, quality service.
  • Collaborate with partners in Code Administration, Emergency Management, Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Services, to provide complimentary life safety services which represent good value to the community.
  • Identify and pursue grant funding opportunities.
  • Identify, develop, deliver, and facilitate quality training programs for firefighters and fire police officers.
  • As in prior years, an Assistant Chief coordinates group purchasing of foam, aerial and ladder testing, and hose testing for all county companies.

 

 B.  Respond to emergency calls for service.
  • The Regional Fire Protection program responds to a wide variety of emergencies. These include, but are not limited to:
    • All types of fires in buildings, vehicles, and wildlands.
    • Rescue: including extrication from vehicles, pits, trenches, woodlands, elevators, confined spaces, structural collapse; disentanglement from machinery, and rescue from heights.
    • Response (county-wide) to incidents involving hazardous materials (chemicals, explosives, biological hazards, radiological hazards).
    • Vehicular and pedestrian traffic control.
    • A wide array of hazardous conditions, such as those involving utilities.
    • Medical assistance when requested by EMS.
    • Law Enforcement assistance as requested.

 

 C.  Ensure Fire programs meet statutory requirements.
  • Remain knowledgeable of current laws and administrative rules that govern the conduct of fire companies within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and take steps as necessary to ensure the Company is in compliance.
  • Review land development plans to assure compliance with applicable state and local fire protection codes.
    [Note: specific building plans are reviewed by the Centre Region Code Agency.]
  • Deliver or facilitate the delivery of training required for statutory compliance to firefighters and fire police officers.
  • Review and approve certain special permits such as those required for fireworks.

 

 D.  Provide educational programs for fire safety.

The Regional Fire Protection Program staff and volunteers participate in a wide variety of community events and public education programs each year. Educational materials are routinely provided to the public at these events. The program also provides education and training to residents and managers of certain high-risk properties.



OF PARTICULAR NOTE

A study of the Regional Fire Protection Program was undertaken by ESCI Consulting in 2020 and the program Strategic Plan was updated in 1Q2021. These two activities have established the path forward for the next three to five years.

Volunteerism in emergency services continues to decline throughout the nation and the Commonwealth. This has a profound impact on the long-term viability of sustaining a mostly volunteer fire department.


WHERE ARE WE GOING?

For current information on future programmatic changes and budget impacts please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 Chapter 22 - Regional Fire Protection Program - Capital Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The Capital Budget for the Regional Fire Protection Program was established by the participating municipalities to purchase vehicles needed for regional fire protection and rescue services. The Capital Budget provides for regular predictable contributions for large planned, but irregular, apparatus expenditures. In accordance with the COG Capital Improvement Plan, the Fire Capital Budget also provides for regular predictable contributions for expenditures related to physical infrastructure, notably building systems, necessary to support program objectives.


WHAT DO WE DO (VEHICLES)?

The COG has maintained a capital fund for the purpose of replacing apparatus since 1975. This capital budget provides long-term planning for the timely replacement or addition of fire apparatus and ensures that sufficient funding is in place to make purchases. The apparatus replacement schedule is updated annually with input from the Alpha Fire Company (Company), Fire Director, COG Public Safety Committee, COG Executive Director, and COG Finance Director.

The replacements scheduled in the current year of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) become the basis for the draft Fire Protection Capital Budget for that year. After review and submission to the COG Executive Director, proposals for apparatus replacement move to the General Forum for final approval. Once approved by the General Forum, the Assistant Chief, Field Services and Operations prepares technical specifications to solicit bids for individual apparatus. Fire apparatus is owned and licensed to the Centre Region COG. All Centre Region apparatus is insured for full replacement cost.

Types of Vehicles:

  • Engines – Sometimes called pumpers, they have a pump and a water tank and carry fire hoses, nozzles, ladders, small tools, and water.
  • Rescue Engine – An engine, as described above that has additional storage space and is equipped with rescue tools for use at automobile crashes and other rescue situations. Each station includes at least one apparatus set up for rescue.
  • Aerial – Also known as a truck, ladder truck, aerial truck, tower truck, or platform, the common factor in all aerial apparatus is a vehicle-mounted device that can extend to a height of 65 to 120 feet or more. It is used for access by firefighters and to rescue trapped victims. The aerial apparatus also carries a large variety of ladders and tools that are used to support operations.
  • Tanker (Tender) – A mobile water supply apparatus that carries 1,000 – 3,500 gallons of water. The tanker is used to supply water to locations not served by fire hydrants. COG’s tankers carry 2,000 gallons and 3,000 gallons of water, respectively.
  • Heavy Rescue Unit – This is a dual-purpose vehicle and its use is determined by incident type. For rescue mode, it carries a large variety of tools and equipment to extricate victims from a wide variety of circumstances. At a fire incident, the rescue truck is used as a supply source for self-contained breathing apparatus and spare air cylinders. The vehicle also carries a large generator to supply electrical power at an incident scene.
  • Quint – The quint is essentially a rescue engine and an aerial tank truck combined into one unit. The COG’s quint is stationed at the College Township Fire Station.
  • Command Unit – A vehicle equipped with several radios to permit communications with all surrounding fire companies and State College and University Police. The unit has maps, charts, plans, manuals, as well as specialized support equipment.
  • Utility Vehicle – A pickup truck outfitted for emergency response. Its primary function is the transportation of personnel, equipment, and supplies for a variety of situations.
  • Fire Police Vehicle – A vehicle with a utility or service body that is used to transport traffic control, access control, investigation support equipment, and personnel to incident locations.
  • Chief’s Vehicle/Fire Director’s Vehicle – Vehicles used by the Fire Chief and the Fire Director for emergency responses. These are equipped to allow the Chief and Director to communicate with other responding emergency equipment and the Centre County 911 Center.
  • Special Unit/Brush – This vehicle is essentially a small pumper with limited capability. It is primarily used for nuisance fires and brush fires. This vehicle was procured as a “gift in kind” from Penn State University.
  • ATV – The fire suppression ATV is used for brush fires and the protection of Beaver Stadium and parking lots during football events. The unit also handles fire patrol duties at large events in the region. The ATV was a gift from the Penn State Athletics Department.
  • HazMat Unit – This unit carries support equipment and instrumentation specific to incidents involving hazardous materials that require Technician-level response. The current unit was gifted to COG by Penn State in June 2020, when COG assumed responsibility for the HazMat Team.


OF PARTICULAR NOTE (VEHICLES)

The COG places a high priority on the maintenance of fire apparatus to ensure that they are in good working order in the event of an emergency. Because of this ongoing investment in maintenance, it may not be necessary to replace some of the apparatus at the time it is scheduled for replacement in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Looking forward, the COG will continue to balance the amount of accrued funds, vehicle conditions, and apparatus price trends to ensure fiscal responsibility.


BUILDINGS

In 2015, capital projects for building maintenance and improvements were moved from the program operating budget to the COG CIP. In the most recent years, most planned capital projects have been held for further evaluation and COG-wide prioritization as part of a broader, ongoing COG facilities strategy. The recent addition of a COG Facilities Coordinator (2020) has permitted forward progress on a facilities strategy and update of the COG CIP. The details of this strategy are expected to be finalized in late 2Q2021.


WHAT DO WE DO (BUILDINGS)?

The COG Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for buildings facilitates a safe and secure environment for staff, volunteers, and equipment. All projects consider long-term operating costs to control expenses such as maintenance and utilities, and community initiatives related to climate change.


WHERE ARE WE GOING – CAPITAL?

For current information on future programmatic changes and budget impacts please see the most current COG Capital Improvement Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 Chapter 23 - Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Operating Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The mission of the Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) Agency is to serve Centre Region residents of all ages throughout the year with a variety of recreation opportunities and access to facilities to enrich their lives through participation in programs, facility use, provision of leadership resources and technical assistance, and serving the participating municipalities' residents and groups.


WHO ARE WE?

The Agency was established in 1966 to provide recreation programs and park maintenance services to the six Centre Region municipalities. (Halfmoon Township withdrew financially from the COG’s Park and Recreation Agency in 1982.)

Working in cooperation with the COG General Forum, the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority serves as the primary oversight body for the Agency. The Authority consists of five volunteer members who are appointed for five-year terms by their respective municipality. A sixth board member represents the State College Area School District. For a listing of current CRPR Authority members please visit: https://www.crcog.net/crprauthority.

The Authority and Agency staff work with the five participating municipalities, the COG Parks Capital Committee, the State College Area School District, and various community groups to provide policy guidance on park projects, fee and usage policies, recreation programming, special events, special partnerships, and future initiatives.

The following documents provide the basis for the proposed 2022 Centre Region Parks and Recreation Agency Program Plans:

  • 2022 Centre Region Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Regional Comprehensive Study Task List; and
  • 2022-2026 COG Capital Improvement Plan.

 

WHAT DO WE DO?

The Centre Region Parks and Recreation Agency coordinates eight different budget funds to provide comprehensive parks and recreation opportunities to the five participating municipalities, including park maintenance, capital improvement, recreation programming, special events, aquatics, environmental and conservation education, active adult programming and services, and regional parks oversight.

This budget serves as the overarching document that provides for general recreation programs and special events, park maintenance operations, concessions operations, fundraising, marketing and promotion, and administrative oversight, coordination, and support for the entire agency. The other seven funds are utilized to serve specialized purposes or facilities.

To provide the various services, the eight agency funds provide for the following staffing (current as of 2021):

 

 Professional Staff:

 24 full-time positions, 2 part-time positions
 *Indicates a position funded by this budget

 Seasonal Staff (PT and FT):
 For this fund only.
 The number of positions varies by season              

  • Director*
  • Program Leaders/Day Camp Leaders
  • Recreation Services Manager*
  • Parks Maintenance Seasonal Caretakers
  • Recreation Supervisor*
  • Sport Instructors and Officials
  • Sports Supervisor*
  • Tournament Staff
  • Aquatics Supervisor
  • Concessions Staff
  • Nature Center Supervisor
 
  • Nature Center Program Coordinator
 
  • Nature Center Staff Assistant
 
  • Active Adult Center Supervisor
 
  • Active Adult Center Staff Assistant
 
  • PT Active Adult Center Staff Assistant
 
  • Parks Manager*
 
  • Assistant Parks Manager*
 
  • Parks Caretaker III/Mechanic*
 
  • Parks Caretaker II (3 positions)*
 
  • Parks Caretaker I (6 positions)*
 
  • Office Manager*
 
  • Staff Assistant – Main Office
    (funded by Aquatics and Parks Operations) 
 
  • PT Recreation Aide* (up to 20 hours per week)    
 

 

Since 1966, the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Agency staff have remained focused on five objectives:

  • Plan, implement, and promote a diverse menu of year-round programs, sports leagues, and special events.
  • Promote and accommodate self-directed uses of parks/facilities by individuals, families, and groups.
  • Provide efficient park maintenance and operation services across an extensive range of recreation facilities at a reasonable cost.
  • Strive to improve community parks and advance the approved capital projects at municipal and regional facilities.
  • Coordinate and administer effective staff support for all agency operations.

 A.  Plan, implement, and promote a diverse menu of year-round programs, sports leagues, and special events.

 

Programming and league operations are primarily funded by user fees and donations and are typically self-supporting.

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Programmatic shifts were essential in 2020. During 2020 and 2021 the pandemic canceled all Summer Camp programs that were operating in the State College Area School District (SCASD) facilities. Staff shifted to offering the Rec in the Parks Summer Camp program at Spring Creek and Orchard Parks using the Rec On The Go truck to provide equipment and supplies.  Enrollment was reduced to allow for physical distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols. The success of this program helped generate some revenue as a replacement for the Agency’s traditional KIDVenture Summer Camp season. The 2021 summer camp season is continuing to be strong and helping to rebuild this revenue with an additional number of camp weeks offered and increased registrations.

  • Online program delivery became the new normal. The Agency staff shifted programming delivery methods and began to offer programs online through the use of Zoom. This was especially helpful during the winter months when finding indoor program space was very difficult since the SCASD facilities were not open to the public. Also, online classes gave customers an option to participate at home where they felt safe. Online programming helped to provide income for various program areas. Online programming is still part of the program offerings in 2021 but the Agency continues to refine those offerings as COVID-19 mitigation efforts change.

  • Offering a Youth Scholarships Program to assist families who may not be able to afford registration fees for programs, camps, and pool passes. This program was revised in 2017 and again in 2021 to provide improved application guidelines to those individuals who may apply for a scholarship. 2021 eligibility is based on participation by an individual or family through a member agency of the Centre County Council of Human Services. This expanded the scholarship opportunities to many more individuals and eliminated families from having to requalify with us when they’re already receiving services. The Agency is now also actively fundraising throughout the year for the scholarship fund. The Agency has provided scholarships for programs, special events, camps, swim team participation, and season pool passes. As these changes, implemented in 2021, continue to expand the program, the Agency may explore asking for additional municipal support for this program.

  • Providing staff support for the planning, construction, funding, and operation of the three regional parks. Two of these parks are now in operation, Hess Softball Complex and Oak Hall Regional Park, and provide playing venues for a range of youth and adult sports leagues and tournaments. The third regional park, Whitehall Road, will be the focus of attention for the Agency for the next two to three years, and construction of the project is anticipated to begin in the Fall of 2021. The Regional Parks fund provides additional support for some operational costs for Oak Hall Regional Park and John Hess Softball Complex. More information on the Whitehall Road Regional Park project can be found at: https://www.crpr.org/parks/pages/whitehall-road-regional-park or https://www.crcog.net/wrrpinfoguide.

  • A shift in sports delivery was needed in 2020. Typically, the Agency operates adult sports leagues throughout the year including volleyball, softball (co-ed, women’s, men’s, age 35+, and age 45+), youth and adult flag football, and Growing the Game Youth Basketball. In 2020, due to COVID-19, the Agency had to drop any indoor leagues since space was not available at SCASD facilities since they were not open to the public. In 2020 and 2021, the Agency added sand volleyball leagues and saw participation in adult softball continue to grow, even with a pandemic affecting other types of programming. Returning in 2021 is a Summer Tennis League that saw double the growth from the 2020 league with over 50 players. The All-Ages Disc Golf Clinic, in partnership with the Centre County Disc Golf Association, will return in 2021 as well. Agency staff members continue to research potential new leagues, for both adults and youth.

  • Hosting major softball and baseball tournaments at the Hess Softball Complex, Oak Hall Regional Park, and numerous satellite fields. The Agency managed eight tournaments in 2020 due to the pandemic, but a full slate of 21 tournaments is scheduled for 2021. These tournaments, which include both local and regional teams, provide notable economic benefits to the Centre Region as the participants stay, shop, and dine at local businesses. The Yuengling Men’s Slow Pitch Tournament was re-branded for 2021 to the Miller High Life Men’s Open Tournament due to a sponsorship change, and the partnership with Happy Valley Adventure Bureau continues to support these tournaments.

  • Despite the pandemic, residents still played their favorite sports. During 2020, Oak Hall Regional Park and John Hess Softball Complex hosted 64 sports teams and 954 local players through its leagues. Local players appreciate the quality of these sports complexes, and that sentiment is echoed by the visitors who travel here for tournaments. The centralized location and high quality of these venues have made the Centre Region a premier tournament destination in Central Pennsylvania. 183 teams brought 2,745 players during a pandemic and played under COVID-19 safety protocols. When you consider the family members who traveled with those players, an additional 5,040 people visited our area at a time when the revenue generated from those visits was desperately needed.

  • In 2020, the agency continued the concessions operation at Oak Hall Regional Park. The concession stand and beverage machines at Hess Softball Complex and Oak Hall Regional Park generated revenues of $15,303 in its third year, operating under pandemic conditions and with reduced attendance. No other vendors participated in our Concessions Contracting in 2020 for various reasons.

  • Developing and expanding community partnerships to further enhance the vitality of the Centre Region through increased program opportunities, event sponsorships, and better marketing plans. Current partners include, but are not limited to, the State College Rotary Club, State College Lions Foundation, State College Area Municipal Band, Bricks 4 Kidz, Centre Region Community Tennis Association, Recreational Arts, Inc, Centre County Disc Golf Association, the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, Leadership Centre County, the Centre Foundation and Centre Gives, and many more. Working with independent contractors has continued to open new lines of unique and competitive programs. Of particular note, a new partnership with Soccer Shots for youth soccer programs and camps has expanded learn-to-play classes, as well as a new partnership with Savage Art Studios, which has expanded youth and adult art programs.

  • Rec On The Go changed its focus in 2020. During the 2019 budget process, the Agency proposed a Rec On The Go mobile recreation program which was supported. In early 2019, the truck was purchased, had some repairs made, and was wrapped with color and an engaging design. In 2019, the truck was used to provide Family Fun Nights and attended festivals and events; the rental program did not get off the ground, but the Agency opted to keep advertising for rentals over the winter of 2019-2020. When the pandemic hit and we lost the opportunity to have inside programming, the Rec On The Go truck became the hub of the Rec In The Parks Summer Cam -- a complete lifesaver. 

  • Operating a variety of youth sports programs. The Agency continues to provide a mix of youth sports including basketball, track and field, and Start Smart Youth Sports like Baseball and Basketball. Staff members continuously evaluate the community’s youth sports offerings to provide appropriate programs. A variety of sports-oriented special events are held throughout the year such as MLB’s Pitch, Hit and Run, youth track meets, and the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick, as well as an extensive menu of adult fitness programs with certified instructors.The Agency is continuing its very successful flag football program for youth entering 1st through 7th grade.

  • Special Events continue. The Agency hosts popular, annual special events such as Outdoor Movies, Easter Egg Hunt and/or the Egg My Yard event, Touch-A-Truck Expo, Kids on Wheels Parade, Friday Night Lights, Halloween Costume Parade, Paws-A-Pool-Ooza, Pedal, Splash & Dash Youth Triathlon, the Winter Carnival, the Welch Cardboard Regatta, and concerts by the State College Area Municipal Band. 2020 saw an adjustment of these events or a complete cancellation if we could not manage the safety protocols or participation limits. New events were created to focus the community on their parks; park scavenger hunts and puzzle challenges started with a Find Fido Challenge, the Virtual Virus Vamoose 5k/10K Virtual Race, a Grinch Mystery Challenge, and a Holiday Light Decorating Contest. These new park events will continue into 2021 and beyond. Staffing for most events is provided by a team through a sign-up program. This approach allows more of the Agency’s professional staff to help with these larger events to ensure they run smoothly and that team leaders have plenty of support.

  • Providing community outreach to make residents aware of CRPR programs, special events, and services and to stress that all residents are welcome. Agency marketing efforts include its Active Guide, E-Newsletters, surveys, evaluations, social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the Agency’s website. During the 2021 budget process, the Agency requested funds to make the Active Guide a direct mail piece, and the Agency staff collected data from the results of the mailings in 2021.

  • Ensuring that Agency staff and volunteers are trained in, knowledgeable about, and follow the Agency’s Child Safety Policy based on the recently updated state laws and regulations. As the state guidelines change for daycare and day camps, Agency staff will be evaluating how this legislation will affect its camp operations and will make changes, if necessary, to keep this popular program in place. Operational expenses may change depending on these legislative changes due to more staff training, longer camp hours, more requirements for supplies and equipment, increased background checks, and other new protocols.

 

 B.  Promote and accommodate self-directed uses of the various parks and facilities by individuals, families, and groups and provide              efficient park maintenance and operations services across an extensive range of recreation facilities at a reasonable cost.


Ongoing Contributions…

  • Maintaining and operating 56 municipal and regional park sites, as shown below. The extensive parks maintenance tasks include park mowing and trimming, brush-hogging, carpentry, soil work, building maintenance, masonry, plumbing, playground safety inspections, arboriculture, custodial work, sports field care and enhancements, trash/recycling collection, tournament and special event preparations, and other duties as needed. The extent of maintenance required in any park depends on the features in each park, the popularity of each feature, and the durability/age of each feature. In 2020, the management/maintenance and permitting for use of Sidney Friedman Park returned to the State College Borough. 

  • Through the Agency’s new park challenges and scavenger hunts and the Park Picture Pursuit event, residents are learning more and more about their local park system and finding new play equipment, new natural areas, and new places to walk.


Parkland in Acres

 Owner / Lessee

State College
Borough

College
Township

Ferguson
Township

Harris
Township

Patton
Township

Totals

 Municipality

114.8 acres

173.7 acres

197.5 acres

68.4 acres

742.7 acres ***

1,297.1 acres

 Non-Public

0 acres

36.3 acres

80 acres **

25 acres

0 acres

141.3 acres

 COG/Authority *

7.3 acres

130 acres

104.5 acres

21 acres

4.4 acres

267.2 acres

 Total Acreage

122.1 acres

340 acres

382 acres

114.4 acres

747.1 acres

1,705.6 acres

 Total Maintained by CRPR 

122.1 acres

257.9 acres

282.5 acres

89.4 acres

177.3 acres

929.2 acres

 

The Centre Region Parks System currently includes 56 regional facilities and parks with 929.2 acres which are currently maintained by the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Agency through our cooperative regional parks and recreation services agreement with the local municipalities. 

*  In 2020, COG/Authority-owned/leased land includes the William L. Welch and Park Forest Community Pools, Radio Park Elementary School ballfields, Oak Hall Regional Park, Millbrook Marsh Nature Center,
   Whitehall Road Regional 
Park, Ferguson Elementary Ballfields, Spring Creek Elementary Ballfield, Hess Softball Complex.

**  Includes 80 acres of former municipal authority land preserved for watershed protection; not considered parkland.

***  Includes Patton Woods Natural Recreation Area which is considered passive parkland (62.7 acres) and the Haugh Tract (465.97) acres.

Other notes about the Acreage Table:

  • In 2021-2022, the four acres of the 42-acre Grays Woods Park will be CRPR-maintained and managed on behalf of Patton Township.
  • In 2021-2023, the nine-acre Songbird Sanctuary in Ferguson Township will come online as a natural, open space area.  CRPR will not maintain this facility.
  • In approximately two to three years, the nine-acre Tussey Pond Park (Harris Township) will be coming online, and most likely will be maintained by CRPR.

 


Over the past decade, the community’s parks inventory has grown to include the renovated Park Forest and Welch Swimming Pools, the expanded Millbrook Marsh Nature Center with the Spring Creek Education Building, John Hess Softball Complex, Oak Hall Regional Park, and the leased Parks Maintenance Facility, along with expanded or new municipal parks. On behalf of the participating municipalities, the agency maintains 40 local playground areas, 8 tennis courts, 4 pickleball courts, 10 dual-lined tennis/pickleball courts, 29 rentable pavilions, 6 formal restroom facilities, and more!

  • Performing park maintenance tasks and special projects, as scheduled across the park system. Overall, the parks are noted by residents for the high level of care and responsiveness provided by Agency staff. The Agency continues to efficiently maintain all sports fields, especially those sites used for leagues and tournaments. Added in 2019 were the additions of no- or low-mow areas in some of the municipal parks. Agency staff continues to evaluate how these changes affect operations and how the residents react to these new natural areas.

  • Providing staff support for the Phase I construction of Whitehall Road Regional Park. The General Forum has designated, through the Articles of Agreement, the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority as the developer of the park. Due to continued delays, this work continued well through 2019 and into 2020 and will continue into 2021.

  • Promoting and enhancing the Park Partners Program, the Remembrance Tree and Benches Program, and the My Hero/My Veteran Tree Program, along with other volunteer initiatives, to maximize community involvement in assisting with the maintenance, enhancement, and development of our municipal and regional parks.  In 2019-2020, the Remembrance and My Veteran/My Hero Tree programs and the Remembrance Bench program will be focused on the Whitehall Road Regional Park to assist with providing additional trees and benches. Despite decent sales of benches and trees, trees could not be planted in 2020 due to the lack of supporting seasonal staff in the Parks Maintenance Department. Those trees were planted in 2021 and some will need to be replaced due to unhealthy tree specimens being shipped to the Agency.

 

 C.  Provide coordination and administrative support for all agency operations.

 

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Providing administrative support to the CRPR Authority and the COG Parks Capital Committee by preparing agendas, minutes, reports, and correspondence.

  • Continuing to provide administrative support for the Phase I development of Whitehall Road Regional Park and to assist the Parks Capital Committee and the Authority with discussions relating to Phase II development at all three regional parks.

  • Managing Agency scheduling to better utilize all current and planned park facilities. In 2017, conversations started with the individual municipalities on overall maintenance, service expectations, and assignment of tasks. This project is not complete but will continue through 2021 and beyond to determine best practices and strive for some consistency across the municipalities.  Some of this work will be accomplished through the Centre Region Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Regional Comprehensive Study Task List.

  • Continuing to maintain the agency’s redesigned website to ensure that information is up-to-date, to evaluate customer use of the site, and rotating photos and artwork. In 2021, the Agency staff performed an evaluation of the website and updated pages, moved some menu items, added additional SEO tagging, and continued to monitor for broken links. The Agency freshened all photos as well.

  • Continuing to provide a well-organized and easy-to-understand rental process for the park pavilions and sports fields rental programs.

  • Continuing the agency’s participation in the annual Centre Gives 36-hour crowdfunding campaign operated by the Centre Foundation. The agency raised funds for the Whitehall Road Regional Park’s All-Ability and Universally-Accessible Playground construction funds in 2019 and 2020, and for the Youth Scholarships Program in 2021. 

  • Seeking and investigating grant and donation opportunities to supplement the operating budget. For example, the small grant provided by Strider Bikes allowed the agency to start the Lil’ Striders program in 2017 which teaches preschoolers balance and riding skills, and to add additional larger bikes in 2019.

  • Seeking and investigating grants to supplement the Agency’s capital budgets. During 2019 and 2020 the focus of this work objective has been the Regional Parks Capital Budget especially, as it relates to the Whitehall Road Regional Park. Other large grants have been secured for other facilities in the last few years. The status of the grant applications is shown below:


Secured Grants:

$300,000 – PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – Whitehall Road Regional Park (WRRP) Playground
$132,300 - PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - WRRP LED Sports Field Lighting
$100,000 - PA Department of Community and Economic Development - WRRP LED Sports Field Lighting
$20,000 – USA Football – WRRP LED Sports Field Lighting
$6,000 – Happy Valley Adventure Bureau – GeoTrail Program - 1st year
$5,000 - Happy Valley Adventure Bureau - GeoTrail Program - 2nd year
$5,000 – Autism Opportunities Network – WRRP Playground
$5,000 – Autism Speaks – WRRP Playground
In-Kind Value – National Recreation and Park Association - Instructor Training Grants for a Senior Health & Wellness Program

In-Kind Value - National Recreation and Park Association - Green Infrastructure Training and Certification
$350,000 - PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - MMNC Spring Creek Education Building Phase 2

Secured Donations:

$193,750 – Central PA Convention & Visitors Bureau – WRRP LED Sports Field Lighting (via priority use agreement)
$25,000 – Fulton Bank – WRRP LED Sports Field Lighting

$15,000 - First National Bank - WRRP LED Sports Field Lighting
$50,000 – Geisinger Foundation – WRRP Playground


OF PARTICULAR NOTE

  • Staff is evaluating how agency programs are funded. An important aspect of the Agency Funding Model is to, when feasible, have those directly benefitting from an agency service bear some or all the cost to provide that service. This work is done annually through the Fee Policy work the staff does with the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority.

  • The “Growing the Game” Youth Basketball program is no longer a partner with the Agency in 2021, so Agency staff are evaluating how to generate a new youth basketball program as we move forward into 2021-2022.

  • Continue to expand professional development opportunities for the Agency staff. The agency continues to look for new opportunities for training. The 2022 Detailed Budget will provide figures and training details.

  • Agency staff will continue to evaluate the Rec On The Go program as there may be an opportunity for a new revenue stream by continuing to promote the rental program. The Rec On The Go program would be available to rent for birthday parties, special events, or festivals, assuming staffing is available for these types of activities.

  • The Parks and Recreation Agency moved out of the COG building in November 2019 and secured a seven-year lease with a five-year buyout for space at 2040 Sandy Drive, Suite A. We are now halfway through the second year of our lease, and soon, conversations will be needed about a permanent location for the Agency. It is unclear at this time if the Agency would build the administrative building located within the Master Plan of Whitehall Road Regional Park, or if it would remain at Sandy Drive for a bit longer.


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 Chapter 24 - Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Capital Equipment Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The mission of the Parks Capital Equipment Budget is to track capital improvements of park maintenance facilities and the acquisition and scheduled replacement of motorized equipment/vehicles and computers that are used by the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Agency.


WHAT DO WE DO?

Starting in 2014, the Parks Capital Equipment Budget was directly funded by the participating municipalities. Previously, there had been a transfer of funds between the Parks Operating Budget and the Parks Capital Budget. Annually, the Detailed Budget includes an updated equipment inventory and a multi-year replacement schedule. It is noted that all items over $10,000 are also listed in the 2022 to 2026 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The Parks Capital Equipment Budget currently includes funding for the purchase and replacement of parks maintenance fleet vehicles and equipment, the agency’s fleet vehicles, and the scheduled replacement of agency computer hardware.

The Agency’s vehicle and equipment inventory continues to increase to satisfy programming needs and effective maintenance requirements in designated parks across the region. Currently, the Parks Maintenance Department maintains 929.9 acres across 56 park sites. Additionally, it is expected that the first four acres of the 42-acre Grays Woods Park will come online in 2021, although those acres are already in the total acres noted above. The nine-acre Tussey Pond Park in Harris Township will come online in the next three to four years, plus two Phase II park projects are planned for Bernel Road Park and Cecil Irvin Park in the near future. Renovations are ongoing for East Fairmount Park and Nittany View Park’s renovations will start soon. The Action Sports Park at High Point Park will come online in 2022. During 2020 the State College Borough did assume maintenance/management and scheduling responsibility for Sidney Friedman Park because of the great number of community events that are held there and scheduled by Borough staff.

Maintenance tasks are completed in the municipal parks, at the COG Building, and the regional park facilities including Oak Hall Regional Park, John Hess Softball Complex, Park Forest Community Pool, Welch Community Pool, Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, at the Active Adult Center, and the Maintenance Facility. Tasks include but are not limited to: park mowing and trimming, brush-hogging, trash and litter collections, sport field operations, major and minor landscape projects, building repairs, supplies and equipment transport, turf care, tree maintenance, trail maintenance, custodial work, some sidewalk and access road clearing, plumbing and winterization needs, special event and programming assistance, and a host of other tasks.

To properly maintain and operate 56 sites, the Agency’s equipment fleet consists of:

21 mowing tractors 21 various tractor attachments
2 dump trucks  1 passenger van (used for camps and programs)
19 pickup trucks Rec On The Go Box Truck
13 flatbed/landscape trailers (used to transport equipment) 6 utility trucksters
2 skid-steer loaders 4 ball field groomers
3 farm-style tractors Small power tools/equipment (including a new battery-operated mower).


The Agency’s vehicle and equipment inventory serve general transportation, program, special events, tournament support, routine maintenance, capital projects, and major repairs in municipal and regional parks. A portion of the fleet vehicles are parked at the Agency’s Administrative Office and the remaining fleet vehicles and equipment are parked at the leased Parks Maintenance Facility, located on Stewart Drive in College Township, across from the Nittany Mall. Equipment is also used and stored at eight satellite park maintenance buildings across the region.


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 

 Chapter 25 - Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Aquatics Operating Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The mission of the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Aquatics Program is to provide safe, clean, and cost-effective public swimming facilities that allow for wholesome recreation opportunities for Centre Region residents. The Aquatics Program provides all ages with the opportunities to obtain aquatic and life-saving skills and to improve physical health.


WHO ARE WE?

On behalf of State College Borough and College, Ferguson, Harris, and Patton Townships, the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority (CRPRA) maintains, operates, and programs the Park Forest and William L. Welch Community Pools and provides programming at the State College Area School District’s High School Natatorium. To perform these services, the Operating Budget provides the following Aquatics Program staff:

 

Full-Time, Year-Round: Part-Time, Seasonal: (up to 150 employees):
  • Aquatics Supervisor
    *50% towards the Full-Time Staff Assistant at the Agency’s main office.

  • Lifeguards
 
  • Swim and Fitness Instructors
 
  • Front Desk Staff
 
  • Two Pool Managers (one at each pool)
 
  • Four Assistant Pool Managers (two at each pool)

 

The facilities used by the CRPR Aquatics Program include two regional pools that are popular destinations for residents. The two outdoor pools are open each summer, seven days a week, from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. In addition, the program has access to the indoor pool in the State College Area High School North Building.

  • Park Forest Community Pool – located at 2100 School Drive in Patton Township: The pool originally opened in 1970 with a partial renovation in 1991. The entire facility was renovated and re-opened on June 13, 2009, with a 220,000-gallon main pool that contains six lap lanes, two waterslides, and a diving board.This $3.2 million pool facility also includes a toddler pool with a spray pad and water spray features. Park Forest Pool is located on 4.4 acres owned by the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority. 2021 is the 13th year of operation since the most recent renovations.

  • William L. Welch Community Swimming Pool – located at 670 Westerly Parkway in State College Borough: This pool originally opened in 1959 and was renovated in 1982; a waterslide was then added in 1987. Welch Pool was closed for construction in 2010 and re-opened in 2011. This $5.4 million pool facility also includes: a zero-depth entry main pool; a lap pool; a current channel; a spray pad and water spray features; and a climbing wall that was added in 2016. Welch Pool is located on 3.3 acres owned by the State College Area School District and leased to the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority. 2021 is the 11th year of operation since the most recent renovations.

  • State College Area High School Natatorium – This pool is rented from the State College Area School District to provide year-round community swimming and diving instructional programming.


WHAT DO WE DO?

 

 A.  Provide safe and clean swimming facilities for Centre Region residents at a reasonable cost.

  • Maintain a clean and healthy pool environment that meets or exceeds the Pennsylvania Bathing Code requirements and other current industry pool operating standards. To ensure water quality, automatic systems monitor the water 24 hours per day, seven days per week during the operating season and staff manually test the water quality every two hours during operational hours. In addition, water samples from each pool are laboratory tested weekly and the facilities are inspected annually by state and local agencies.

  • Operate each pool safely and efficiently.

  • Ensure pool staff members are well trained by providing training both before the season opening and twice monthly throughout the season to review rescue procedures, improve response reaction times, and keep staff up-to-date on current pool procedures and operations.


 B.  Provide quality programming and events at the aquatic facilities.
  
  • Provide multiple-level swimming and diving lessons year-round as well as annual Lifeguard Certification and Recertification classes.

  • Provide aquatic programs at the outdoor pools including swim teams, adult fitness, and private swim instruction; offer pavilion reservations, and umbrella and pool rentals.

  • Hold special events at the outdoor pools including cardboard boat races, late-night swims, Youth Triathlon, Paws-A-Pool-Ooza, and holiday-themed activities.

 

OF PARTICULAR NOTE

  • Municipal contributions to the Aquatics Operating Budget dropped from $122,879 in 2008 to $0 for 2011-2019. 2011 was the first time in 25 years that municipal funds were not requested for Aquatics operations. The pools continue to be revenue-generating at this time. In addition, revenue received from pool operations also enabled a $50,000 contribution in 2012, a $70,000 contribution in 2013 and 2014, $30,000 in 2016, $25,000 in 2017, and $15,000 in 2020 to the Aquatics Capital Budget to help offset some of the capital costs and loan repayments. Contributions may be made annually when feasible, pending seasonal successes that are dependent on the weather. Hot weather translates into higher revenue while wet and cold weather results in lower gate receipts. Contributions were not made in 2018 due to lower revenues with the wettest year on record for Central PA with over 60” of rain. 2020 saw reduced capacities due to COVID-19 protocols, but the pool was able to manage operations using revenue generated by pool passes and daily admissions and by keeping expenses to a minimum wherever possible. The pools operated at 50% of their typical capacity throughout the summer and remained open through September 2020 to maximize revenue and take advantage of warm, late summer weather.

  • All repairs, purchases, and equipment replacement that do not meet the Capital Improvement Plan threshold ($10,000) are funded through this operational budget.

  • The following items have been replaced or will require attention in the next 1-3 years and do not meet the Capital Improvement Plan threshold of $10,000. The intent is for operational revenue to cover these small capital replacements and the Agency will continue to evaluate fees and charges for the pool operations to remain operationally sound. The replacement items are:
    • Diving board replacement completed at $5,000.
    • Park Forest Pool vacuum replacement was replaced in 2019 for approximately $5,000.
    • On-going canopy replacements at Welch Pool for large and small Funbrellas at $3,200/large and $1,600/small Funbrella; there are a total of 12 small and 2 large canopies.
    • Two or three canopy purchases and installations at Park Forest Pool for small Funbrellas at $5,600/small Funbrella plus installation costs.
    • Replace the water softener and brine tank replacements at Welch Pool.
    • Sandblasting and powder-coating the metal structure and replacing roof shingles at Park Forest Pool. Cost may reach the level of moving this item to the Capital Improvement Plan.
    • Replacement of domestic water heater unit at Park Forest for approximately $8,500.
    • Annual maintenance fees to service the four pool heaters.
    • The replacement of Park Forest Pool’s toddler area was completed in 2019, and the replacement of Park Forest’s main swimming pool was completed in 2020.
    • On-going replacements of chemical feed pumps as necessary; there are four at each pool and the life expectancy is typically three to four seasons. The feed pumps deteriorate very quickly in their environment.
    • Began the replacement of the computers and office printers at each pool, and this will continue into 2022 as well.

  • The Agency’s initiative to offer mobile snack concessionaires was successful through 2018. It has fulfilled a need for patrons while also providing additional agency income. In 2019 and 2020, the Agency struggled to find concessionaires who could meet the pools’ needs; therefore, the pool started selling small novelty ice cream items and drinks. This service is appreciated by patrons, and the revenue further bolsters the operating budget.

  • Future expansion of concession services will continue to be explored with additional food concessionaires and/or in-house services. A successful in-house concession program was launched at Oak Hall Regional Park in 2017. The Agency is currently investigating the purchase of its own food service vehicle to provide concessions to both regional pools and the regional parks. A notation of this project has been included in the Aquatics Capital Budget.

  • The pool facilities, coupled with the popular array of recreational, instructional, and competitive programs and events, assist in attracting returning and new patrons to the pools.

  • The addition of a floating obstacle course, the Wibit, for use during special weekends or events remains a hit with patrons. The Agency continues to evaluate the course’s rotation between the two pools and the addition of new pieces to keep the course fresh for patrons.

 

WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 

 Chapter 26 - Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Aquatics Capital Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The Aquatics Capital Budget for the Aquatics Program was established by the participating municipalities to fund capital improvements to the regional pools as well as for the renovation of those facilities. The Aquatics Capital Budget provides for debt repayment and for regular, predictable contributions for the larger capital expenditures planned or unplanned capital expenses with a cost of $10,000 or more. This budget would also serve for larger capital expenditures when the next major renovations of either or both pools are needed.


WHO ARE WE?

The participating municipalities have maintained an Aquatics Capital Budget separate from the Aquatics Operating Budget for over 30 years. This budget, as approved by the General Forum, was established to fund major pool repairs and the planning and construction of renovations at Park Forest Community Pool in Patton Township and the William L. Welch Community Pool in the Borough of State College.

The last ten years have witnessed the transition of two dated pool facilities that were losing patrons and costing the municipalities’ money, to two new state-of-the-art facilities that have doubled patron usage and are financially self-sustaining. They are among the best public pools in Central Pennsylvania. Both pools are over 10 years old since being renovated, but through positive capital improvement, they have been maintained well. The next five to ten years will be critical to ensure that both pools remain operational, safe, and interesting to the public.

Some of the accomplishments funded through the Aquatics Capital Budget include:

  • Master Site Plans were developed for the renovation of the two pools through a public process and were unanimously approved by the participating municipalities.

  • A financial consultant and bond counsel were retained to prepare and issue funding requests and evaluate competitive proposals for borrowing up to $7.9 million, the largest fiscal transaction at the time in the Council of Governments (COG) history. The loan was payable to the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority and is backed by a loan guarantee agreement approved by each of the five participating municipalities.

  • Park Forest Pool was fully renovated and under construction from 2008-2009. Construction began in August 2008 and the pool reopened to the public in June 2009. The budget year 2022 will be the 14th season of operation for this pool.

  • Welch Pool was fully renovated and under construction from 2009-2011. Construction began after the pool closed in September 2009. The pool was closed for the 2010 summer and reopened to the public in May, in time for the 2011 pool season. The budget year 2022 will be the 12th season of operation for this pool.

  • The total cost of both pool renovation projects was within the approved $8.6 million budget.

  • In 2012, the loan balance of $6.128 million was refinanced to a lower interest rate of 2.43% for the same term, reducing the overall debt by over $500,000. After the first 10 years (2022), the interest rate will be calculated at 64% of one month’s LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate), plus 2.1% with a cap of 3.95%.

  • The aquatics loan was refinanced as part of a package with the Authority’s Regional Parks loan; the interest rate pledged at this time is 1.25% fixed for the remaining term
    of the loan. The loan is expected to be repaid in 2028.

 

Capital Budget Review:

  • 2001-2003 – The municipalities contributed a combined total of $65,000 annually to the Aquatics Capital Budget.

  • 2004-2006 – A combined total of $25,000 was contributed each year with the understanding that a bond issue may be considered for the approaching pool renewals.

  • 2007 – The municipalities contributed $200,000, which was used primarily to offset the architectural fees that would accompany the pool renovations. The COG engaged a public financial consultant to guide the elected officials as they considered the various strategies to finance the upcoming pool renewals.

  • 2008 – The municipalities contributed $465,000 to prepare for the anticipated loan repayments.

  • 2009 – The municipalities contributed $350,000. Much of the fund balance was utilized following a cash flow management plan to pay for the pool construction costs from August 2008 through May 2010.

  • 2010-2012 – The municipalities contributed $400,000 per year per the debt-service plan. In addition, municipal contributions were established to build a Capital Improvement Fund with $21,300 for 2010 and $39,500 for 2011 and 2012.

  • 2013 – The municipalities contributed $317,825 to the debt service payments (a reduction from the prior three years); capital improvement contributions remained the same as the previous two years at $39,500. Also, in 2013, $54,300 was spent to install an ultraviolet treatment system at Park Forest Pool.

  • 2014-2028 – The annual debt service payments are projected to remain steady at $446,600 through 2028. However, the municipal contributions are supplemented by the available fund balance and by any available transfer from the operating funds. These payments will change with the upcoming refinancing of the pools’ loan in conjunction with the Authority’s Parks loan.  The final loan payment is scheduled in 2028.

  • During 2018-2019 – Agency staff have been improving the Capital Improvement Program to recognize the life expectancy of equipment, buildings, and roofs to create a better list of capital needs for the next five, ten, and fifteen years. Because the pools are entering their 11th and 13th operational seasons respectively in 2021, it is very important to capture upcoming needs as infrastructure continues to age.


WHAT DO WE DO?

 

 A.  Maintain, repair, and improve the two swimming pools operated by the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority.

 
Ongoing Contributions…

  • Evaluate and upgrade facilities and equipment as required by local laws and national operating and safety standards.
  • Perform necessary capital replacements and improvements on the pools as needed and use the improved and pre-determined Capital Improvement Plan to guide those replacements based on the recommended lifespan and condition for equipment pieces.

 

 B.  Provide funding assistance for the planning and construction of new or renovated facilities.

 

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Continue to build the fund balance for capital repairs and replacement projects that may occur annually in the future.
    In addition to the loan repayments, the consultants recommended contributing a minimum of $20,000 per year ($10,000 for each facility) to address large-scale projects (as needed) such as re-plastering a pool or fixing a major structural or system issue. This becomes more important as the renovated pools and associated equipment continue to age, and replacement costs become too high.

  • Repay the principal and interest on the pool loan. The debt service on the loan to rebuild the pools is paid from this budget.


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?


To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 

 Chapter 27 - Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Active Adult Center Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The mission of the Centre Region Active Adult Center is to be the Centre Region’s lead agency that provides a diverse menu of activities, events, and resources for active adults, ages 55 and over. These activities will meet the social, emotional, and physical well-being of the Centre Region participants as well as County residents. The Center is operated by the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority (CRPR Authority) with the assistance and support of the Centre County Office of Aging.


WHO ARE WE?

The Centre Region COG and the CRPR Authority have operated the Centre Region Active Adult Center since 1975. Until 1986, the Center was located in a church basement on Easterly Parkway and was open three days per week with part-time staff. Program oversight was provided by the COG Executive Director in consultation with the Centre Region Senior Citizens’ Advisory Commission. Due to space and scheduling conflicts with the church, programming was limited primarily to noontime meals. In 1986, the Center moved to the newly constructed Fraser Plaza in the State College Borough. It was during this time that the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority was named as the administering agency for the then-named Centre Region Senior Center. In 2004, the Center was expanded by 1,700 sq. ft. as it took over the former Agency office space as the facility lease with the State College Borough was set to expire on December 31, 2017. Due to construction in the area, traffic congestion, patron-accessibility concerns, as well as the availability of a tenant that was interested in immediate rental of the space, the CRPR Authority voted to accept an offer from the State College Borough to terminate the lease effective August 31, 2015.

After evaluating numerous sites, the CRPR Authority finalized details to relocate to the new 7,075 sq. ft. of space inside the Nittany Mall. A smaller interim space inside the mall was also secured while lease negotiations and permanent space renovations were completed. The Center relocated to the interim space on September 1, 2015. The permanent space was completed, and the Center opened in its permanent location in January 2017 with a grand opening ceremony held on January 27, 2017. Upon opening, the Center was renamed the Centre Region Active Adult Center to describe the variety of its services and programs more accurately and to send a welcoming message to all older adults, 55 years+.

The Center remains a successful cooperative partnership between the Centre County Office of Aging and the COG/CRPR Authority. The Active Adult Center is staffed by a full-time Supervisor, a full-time Staff Assistant, and a part-time Staff Assistant. These staff members and 25 volunteers/program instructors provide a variety of activities including: Tai Chi, Silver Spurs Line Dancing, Stretches, Weights, and Walking, Genealogy Club, Second Winds Band, Bridge, and Mahjongg lessons, other programs and presentations, coupon cutting and sorting, meal preparations and services, and various special events like the annual Murder Mystery Luncheon, Pancake Breakfasts, the Halloween Party, and several other themed holiday celebrations.


WHAT DO WE DO?

The Active Adult Center (AAC) provides a central location for adults, ages 55+, to come together in a community setting and take part in important opportunities for socialization, recreation, education, and nutrition. The Center provides services and activities for participants that reflect their experiences and skills, meet their needs and interests, enhance dignity and respect, support their independence, and encourage community involvement and peer connections.

Prior to 2022, municipal funding shares were calculated using the residency data for individual patrons from July 1 of the previous year through June 30 of the current year. This calculation method was initiated in 2013 to more accurately account for participation by a municipality. The process also identifies the number of non-Centre Region residents who are attending the facility. These non-Centre Region residents are Centre County residents and are thereby allowed to attend this facility per our association with the Centre County Office of Aging which contributes funding to the program.

 

 A.  Provide high-quality and diverse programming to the Active Adult Center participants.


Ongoing Contributions…

  • Providing extensive information and resources on a variety of issues to a very diverse active adult population, ages 55+.

  • Offering a wide variety of free and fee-based programs and special events that stimulate the mind and body. Program examples include but are not limited to the activities shown in the table below.

 

  Fee-Based Programs &
  Special Event Examples:
  Free Activity Examples:
    • Open Artist Studio
    • Canasta and Poker
    • Bridge Club
    • Left/Right/Center
    • Genealogy Club
    • Guggenheim
    • Healthy Tai Chi
    • Skip-Bo
    • Murder Mystery Luncheon
    • Trivia
    • Progressive Weight Training
    • Bingo
    • Day Trips to Hershey Park,
      Harrisburg State Archives,
      Lake Raystown, and more...
    • CRPR Active Walkers
    • Stretches, Weights, and Walking    
    • Mahjongg Lessons and Play
    • Baked Potato Bar
    • Social Bridge
    • Hot Dog Bar
    • Tripoley
    • Line Dancing
    • Pinochle
 
    • Bell Choir
 
    • Health & Wellness Presentations
 
    • Ice Cream Socials
 
    • Book Club
 
    • Rummikub
 
    • Senior Hikers
 
    • Healthy Steps in Motion
 
    • Wii Sports
 
    • Scrabble
 
    • Brain Boosters
 
    • Seconds Winds Band
 
    • Crocheting
 
    • Monthly Blood Pressure Screening

 

  • In addition, the Center also hosts several guest speakers throughout the year who discuss a variety of relevant topics. The AAC also holds different programs and events including health screenings (blood pressure, vision, balance, etc.), vaccination clinics (flu and shingles), special events, holiday celebrations, picnics, and book discussion groups in cooperation with the Schlow Centre Region Library. The Center is a distribution location for the Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers and other important and timely information. The AAC continues to be a book drop-off and pick-up site for Schlow Library patrons.

  • To keep Center activities relevant and current, staff members conduct monthly planning meetings which encourage participants to provide input on program development, implementation, and volunteer opportunities. These meetings allow participants to engage in identifying the types of programs that are offered at the Center. Discussing ideas and community resources to promote healthy living, independence, personal growth, and knowledge are the guiding principles for the programs and activities provided.

  • Developing new program sponsorships to enhance services and reduce municipal contributions. Sponsorships and partnerships at the Active Adult Center include: Encompass Health, OMNI Home Care, Comfort Keepers, Home Watch Caregivers, State College Area Food Bank, Penn State Recreation, Parks & Tourism Management (RPTM) students and interns, Penn State Gerontology Center, Medi Home Health and Hospice, Addison Court Senior Apartment Community, Home Instead Senior Care, Bellefonte Family YMCA, Bellefonte Bowling Lanes, Mount Nittany Medical Center, Centre County Coalition of Senior Centers, Forever Broadcasting, Foxdale Village Retirement Community, Centre Cares Nursing Care Center, Elmcroft Senior Living, Juniper Village, Grane Home Care and Hospice, Embassy of Hearthside, and Fullington Trailways.

  • Creating new partnerships with community organizations. By way of example, Centre County Transportation provides a van service that allows the Center to expand active adult travel opportunities to include special shopping trips, local farmer’s market trips, picnics in local parks, outings for lunch at local eateries, local arts festivals and county fairs, and late afternoon and evening cultural performances on campus, in town, and beyond (Altoona, Mill Hall, Belleville, Raystown, and Lewisburg). Because motor coach transportation isn’t always affordable or cost-effective, van services like this allow smaller groups to attend these day trips on a more affordable budget.

  • Promoting and assisting with partners’ programming from Schlow Centre Region Library, Silver Spurs, Second Winds Band, Penn State RPTM classes, Senior Hiking Group, PSU Gerontology Center, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) of Penn State.

  • Promoting the programs and events via the CRPR Active Guide, print and social media, the agency’s website, monthly calendars, and during special presentations, when appropriate.

 

 B.  Coordinating appointments and providing volunteers, staff assistance, and resources for income taxes, property tax rebates, rent               rebates, Medicare updates, and farmer’s market vouchers.


Ongoing Contributions…

  • Coordinating daily transportation services (via the Centre County van service) as requested by participants including responding to phone inquiries for information and services as well as providing and updating the daily transportation roster. Included in the van services are weekly grocery trips, beauty shop visits, family visits, doctor appointments, and more. Donations are accepted from participants (50¢ per stop) to defray costs. All transportation donations are relayed to the Centre County Office of Aging.

  • Providing required monthly reports and statistics to the Centre County Office of Aging and the CRPR Authority, as well as any granting agencies where reporting of data is required as part of the grant program.

  • Arranging for nutritious noontime meals, for a small donation, to participants while monitoring their special dietary needs. Active Adult Center participants, ages 60 and over, are provided a noontime meal with a requested donation of $2.00 per meal ($4.67 for those between 55-60 years); funds collected are split 50%-50% with the Centre County Office of Aging. Noontime meals are prepared by a vendor selected by the Centre County Office of Aging and served by Active Adult Center staff and volunteers in accordance with ServSafe® and state regulations.

  • Monitoring participant responses to menu selections and providing feedback to the Centre County Office of Aging regarding the food service contract.

APRIL

Meals Served

Program Visits

2016

484

3,262

2017

426

3,848

2018

425

4,403

2019

380

4,155

2020

0/28*

172**

2021

51***

729****


*In April 2020 the Center was closed due to COVID-19. No meals were served, but 28 meals-on-wheels were delivered.
**172 was not in-person contact. It was emails, phone calls, and card mailing while the Center remained closed due to COVID-19.
***April 2021 the Center was open minimally due to COVID-19. Thus, only 51 meals were served.
****These program visits were a combination of in-person and email/phone calls/card mailing.


OF PARTICULAR NOTE

The Active Adult Center relocated to an interim space inside the Nittany Mall on September 1, 2015, and then relocated to its permanent space on January 17, 2017. Since the relocation to the Mall in 2015, 849 NEW participants have joined the Center, and there was an increase of 239 new members since May 2017. The increased accessibility both for those who drive and for those who use county transportation as well as parking availability, a wide range of programs and events, and the highly qualified staff contribute to the growth and success of the Active Adult Center; the support from the County Office of Aging, COG, and all of the partnering agencies have demonstrated the region’s dedication to its aging population. Below is a table identifying the number of meals served and program visits for April over the last four years.

The CRPR Authority approved a lease amendment on May 19, 2016, finalizing renovation costs and rental payments and extending the Nittany Mall lease from 10 years to 15 years, ending on July 31, 2030. The signed lease remains within the amended COG and Centre County approved budget as approved in late January 2016. The finalized rental rates for the 7,075-square-foot space are as follows: 

 

2016–2018 $13.00/square foot per year
2019–2021 $14.00/square foot per year
2022–2030 $16.00/square foot per year

 

Compared to the high rental rates for commercial space in the Centre Region, the rates that were negotiated with the mall owners are very competitive with the other site options considered by the CRPR Authority.

At the May 2019 CRPR Authority meeting, the Nittany Mall Manager attended to provide an update on mall activities and what is ahead for the mall’s future. The Authority members and Agency staff were reassured that the mall is continuing with its operations and has new businesses with secured leases opening in the mall; a current business is currently renovating for a major expansion, and there are some ongoing lease negotiations for future tenants. At the current time, there is no need for the Active Adult Center to contemplate moving to a new location.

In 2016, the CRPR Authority engaged Affinity Connections, Inc. of State College to assist with fundraising efforts related to further enhancements and Phase II additions; the plan proposed to raise approximately $100,000 for capital improvements to the Center.

Approximately $33,000 was raised through individual and corporate donations. These donations supported the PA Department of Aging Senior Resource Grant ($65,000, awarded in April 2018) projects as the grant funds were exhausted and the donations supported the remaining projects that were not covered by grant funding. In 2019, these renovation projects continued through the spring and summer months as the grant deadline was extended through September 15, 2019.

These grant funds, along with the individual donations, were used to:

  • Enclose the front entrance with glass partitions and entrance doors to help control heat/AC use within the Center and to also reduce sound interference from the main mall corridor.
      
  • Install a video projector, screen, and sound system. Its purchase will allow image-viewing programs for both educational and entertainment purposes.

  • Update some of the floor surfaces as adjustments were needed to the carpet and vinyl flooring layout to better utilize space and to improve cleaning procedures after being in operation for a year.

  • Install a door in the rear hallway.

  • Design and install permanent signage.

In 2018, the Active Adult Center Supervisor and Agency Director worked with the Finance Director and the Centre County Office of Aging to create a management agreement that formally documented the County’s contributions for 2019-2021, including the meal programs and related costs, as well as other day-to-day operational requirements that satisfy the County’s reporting needs, and the County’s portion of the renovation debt. This agreement was endorsed by the General Forum and went into effect in January 2019 and allowed the budget process to be much smoother as there is no longer the need for Agency staff to document the expenses the County will fund. Generally, the County’s contribution covers operational expenses with 2% funding increases for each budget year that are already identified. In 2021, the terms for the next three years will be discussed so that the document is updated without any interruption to the agreement.

In June 2019, the Center changed its public operating hours to 8 AM–3:30 PM, to allow staff additional time for data input, deposits, and other reporting and facility needs.


COG/AUTHORITY/COUNTY AGREEMENT REVIEW

As noted earlier, in 2018, the Parks and Recreation Director, COG Finance Director, Active Adult Center Supervisor, and Centre County Office of Aging staff met to review and recommend updates to the 1984 agreement relating to the operation of the Active Adult Center (formerly the Senior Center).

The agreement was severely out of date and did not reflect how the Center currently functions. The signatories to the agreement were the COG Chair, the County Board of Commissioners Chair, the Centre Region Senior Citizens Advisory Commission Chair (disbanded), and the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority Chair.

Through this review process, the following points were finalized:

  • The application of the non-resident fees for individuals who do not live in the Centre Region but participate in programs conducted at the Active Adult Center has been waived. Prior to this updated agreement, non-Centre Region residents paid 130% of a program’s cost. The County Office of Aging staff requested that this non-resident fee be waived because the Center is part of the Centre County Office of Aging, which allows seniors to visit any of the centers per the State guidelines. It doesn't matter where they live. For the County, a Bellefonte resident can drive or take public transportation to visit the Centre Region Active Adult Center. Therefore, in the County’s view, all Centre County participants should pay resident fees. In 2019, non-Centre Region resident fees were removed from registration software and the Active Guide.

  • The level of funding from the County given the increased use of the Center from non-Centre Region residents was discussed. Currently, the county provides approximately 33% of the operating budget and the Active Adult Center currently has approximately 29% non-Centre Region resident participation. This relates to the point made above; the Centre County Office of Aging and the PA Department of Aging’s policies do not differentiate between a participant’s residency within the county and the senior center that they visit. The agency staff certainly plans to continue monitoring participation at the Center, but a long-term recommendation was made to the County to fund annually at 30%, and that funding could be applied to the Center’s operations. These funds were no longer restricted to pre-determined expenses. In addition, since this agreement was to be for three years, annual increases were set to compensate for employee COLAs, merits, and other operational increases.



WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 Chapter 28 - Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Millbrook Marsh Nature Center (MMNC) - Operating Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The mission of the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center is to educate and inspire the community about the natural world and to instill a passion for the environment through science, history, culture, and art.


WHO ARE WE?

The Millbrook Marsh Nature Center (MMNC) is a recreation and education destination for the community. It is a unique wetland, including four acres of a natural fen, in the midst of a growing urban environment, and serves as a regional destination that offers free passive recreation opportunities to the public while also providing educational programming and rental facilities.

In January 1997, a 35-year lease at $1 per year between Penn State University and the Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) Authority was executed for the Nature Center, after consulting with the General Forum. During 2007, the lease was extended through 2042 (plus three additional optional five-year extensions) to provide for the Phase I construction of the Spring Creek Education Building at the Nature Center. In April 2019, the lease was again updated to be extended to 40 years upon completion of Phase II of the Spring Creek Education Building, estimated to occur in 2023.

The Nature Center consists of a 12-acre farmstead plus a 50-acre wetland in College Township. The 50-acre wetland area hosts a conservation easement between Penn State and ClearWater Conservancy of Central PA. Portions of the wetlands area are a calcareous fen, a rare type of natural area. The conservation easement is a legal agreement that limits certain uses on all or a portion of a property for conservation purposes while keeping the property under the landowner’s title. The easement is recorded at the Centre County Recorder of Deeds office and currently protects this area through the year 2047.

The farmstead includes a historic, restored barn and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified Silver facility, the Spring Creek Education Building (SCEB). A capital campaign raised $1,087,830 (with 100% payment on all pledges) to fund the Phase I construction of the SCEB and visitor parking area. Construction of the visitor parking area was completed in the spring of 2016 and was funded by a grant awarded by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and additional contributions from private donors. Planning for the construction of the Phase II expansion of the Spring Creek Education Building as well as the addition of the Welcome Pavilion continued. Led by staff and the MMNC Advisory Committee members, and with guidance from the fundraising consultant, a capital campaign raised nearly $2 million in community and foundation gifts and state grants, reaching the funding goal in 2021. These funds in addition to $200,000 in municipal support allow the Nature Center to complete construction of the SCEB Phase II expansion project in early 2023.

The facilities at the Nature Center provide a popular, local setting for community rentals and indoor education space. The unique wetland ecosystem allows the Nature Center to offer quality environmental education programs, wildlife viewing opportunities, and community events. Millbrook offers curriculum and state standard-based programs for students from local and surrounding school districts to learn about the importance of the wetland ecosystem. Other programs are designed to address the needs of scout groups and homeschool families. A wide range of activities geared specifically toward families, children, and adults are offered, as well as youth day camp programs.

The CRPR Authority appoints volunteer committee members to the Nature Center Advisory Committee for two-year terms. The committee represents the partner groups associated with the Nature Center and works with staff to help guide the developmental and operational needs of the Center. Subcommittees were also formed to guide the financial and programmatic aspects of the Center.

In 2014, the Nature Center began focusing on operational fundraising to support the growing programs and the maintenance and upkeep of the facilities. Operational fundraising continues to be a focus of the Nature Center and may provide more support in the future. The growth of operational fundraising and the rental program helped to reduce municipal contributions in 2018 by $4,235. Municipal contributions increased in 2019 by $10,892 due mainly to higher fees for financial services, internet, website hosting, and contracted IT/network services, as well as transitioning the part-time Staff Assistant position to full-time.

Agency staff support for the Nature Center includes:

 

Full-Time, Year-Round: Seasonal:
    • Nature Center Supervisor
    • Program Leaders – Work throughout the year with Guided Programs, CEEL,
      Puddle Jumpers, Homeschool Programs, Summer Camps, and Events.
    • Nature Center Program Coordinator
    • College Interns
    • Nature Center Staff Assistant
    • Instructors
Part-Time:  
    • CRPR Maintenance (funded 33% by this budget)      
 



WHAT DO WE DO?

 

 A.  Preserve the Centre Region’s historical, agricultural, and environmental heritage by maintaining and enhancing the buildings and              wetland ecosystems of the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center.

 

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Maintaining the MMNC grounds in compliance with the conservation easement and management plan, including land management and building operations.

  • Providing facilities for community special events. Both the education building, and the barn are rented for bridal/baby showers, meetings, workshops, retreats, wedding receptions, and more. The education building is also the home base for the Puddle Jumpers nature play program for preschoolers—the only program of its kind in the Centre Region.

  • Carrying out initiatives to make it easy for Centre Region residents and others to visit the Center. By way of example, a new Visitor Parking Area was constructed in 2016 to accommodate the growing volume of visitors. The crushed-stone lot includes 84 parking spaces, rain gardens, and walkways to the facilities. This project was funded solely by private donations and a 50% matching grant from the state. Prior to this project, visitors and buses parked on the grass, which proved to be problematic when the ground was wet. The future addition of the Welcome Pavilion will provide wayfinding, additional restrooms, and water fountains that will be available for use when those in the Spring Creek Education Building are not, and its position by the parking lot will be an added convenience for large school groups and individual visitors alike.

  • Maintaining the physical structures at the Nature Center in a safe condition that is representative of the Centre Region. Due to interior corrosion of the piping, the full replacement of the sprinkler system in the unheated barn was completed in November 2018. Power washing and restaining of the barn and Spring Creek Education Building occurred in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

    A protective coating was applied to the barn roof in May 2019 to seal the numerous leaks that had formed, and new snow guards and gutters were installed. Looking ahead, the MMNC staff evaluated the aging structures at the Nature Center including the boardwalk, which is over 15 years old and has been damaged by storms; the ten-year-old grinder/pump stem for the SCEB restrooms; the ten-year-old pump system for the geothermal wells;the need for an ADA exterior drinking fountain for visiting children’s groups; the staff offices which are located in the Service Building; and a rehabilitated barn which will require some major upgrades. The maintenance and repair of these existing facilities are addressed in the MMNC Capital Budget.

  • Controlling invasive plants at the Nature Center, with support from specialists and biologists at Penn State University, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and ClearWater Conservancy, to keep the site safe for visitors and encourage native plants to thrive in this ecosystem. In particular, poison hemlock, which is native to Europe and North Africa, has been found at the Center. The Agency is assisted by Penn State University in eradicating the plants as they are identified. A five-year habitat restoration project started in 2018 and will continue through 2023; this project is completely funded through in-kind donations from various organizations that are assisting with the project. The focus is on removing invasive plants other than poison hemlock and restoring that habitat with native plants.

 

 

 B.  Serve the community by providing safe, fun, and educational programs for children and adults, community events, facility rental                 options, and other services.

 

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Providing quality environmental education programs for school groups, private groups, homeschool families, children’s birthday parties, and more.

  • Offering programs that meet the Nature Center’s mission and support operations such as the “Puddle Jumpers” nature play program series (the only drop-off nature play-based program in the region), adult classes, and exciting summer camps for youth such as the “Outdoor Explorer,” “Boating Adventures,” and the “Wonders of Nature Art” camps.

  • Continuing to offer the “Eco-Explorers” after-school program series (started in Fall 2014) in partnership with the State College Area School District Community Education Extended Learning (CEEL) program at eight schools, an increase of two schools from 2018. This program series is the first time the Nature Center has provided off-site programming for children.

  • Continuing to develop and offer new programs including homesteading, arts and crafts, outdoor painting, and flora and fauna workshops for adults, and exploring multigenerational programming opportunities.

  • Providing a large-scale family event each year.

  • Continuing to strengthen the online presence of the Nature Center with Facebook and Instagram pages as well as monthly E-newsletters. This is intended to reach a larger audience and better promote the mission and programs. All Nature Center publicity is shown on the Agency Facebook page, Agency website, and E-newsletters as well.

  • Offering a recreational setting for visitors to enjoy dog walking, bike riding, picnicking, hiking, birdwatching, photography, painting, and time with their friends and families.

  • Offering quality programs to meet the criteria for Boy Scout, Girl Scout, and Navigator Scout education and skill classes.

  • Continuing to strengthen volunteer efforts at the Nature Center. Currently, the Nature Center has a Volunteer Garden Coordinator who maintains the flower beds and gardens and other volunteers who offer their time and assistance with maintenance, invasive plant removal, photography, programming, and other duties at the Center.

  • Focusing on quality customer service, well-trained staff, and offering a friendly welcome to all who attend programs and events or visit the grounds.

  • Continuing to offer the Centred Outdoors program in partnership with the ClearWater Conservancy, Penns Valley Conservation District, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, PA Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks Society, Penn State Sustainable Communities Collaborative, Mount Nittany Conservancy, Mount Nittany Health, Get Outdoors PA, Centre Moves, The Arboretum at Penn State, Appalachian Outdoors, the YMCA, Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, Penn State University, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, and the Spring Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Centred Outdoors offers free, local, guided hikes at destinations throughout the Centre Region from May through October.

 

 

 C.  Develop municipal, private, and community partnerships to fund the development and operation of the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center.

 

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Cultivating outside resources and private contributions to fund operations and capital projects at the MMNC. Exploring funding and sponsorship options to expand community offerings. Meeting with educational groups, private citizens, and community groups to increase awareness of the Nature Center. Hosting a fundraising event each year to increase awareness and secure funds.

  • Developing strong partnerships with area agencies and groups to offer joint programs and events, including Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, the Centre County Historical Society, Discovery Space Museum, PSU Arboretum, ClearWater Conservancy, and others.

  • Attend events, conferences, fairs, and meetings to promote the Agency and the MMNC. Staff continues to attend community events when appropriate and to educate the community members on Agency resources, programming, and opportunities.

  • Exploring additional opportunities to hire contracted instructors to increase program and camp offerings and increase program revenue. Strengthening partnerships with community groups and local businesses to offer additional programming at no cost to the Nature Center.



OF PARTICULAR NOTE

  • Millbrook Marsh partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ClearWater Conservancy, Penn State University Wildland Weed Management Department, Partners for Fish & Wildlife, Habitat Forever, PA Game Commission, and the Foundation for California University to begin a multi-year, three-step approach to restore close to 4.5 acres of habitat in the marsh. Removing non-native, invasive species by mechanical means was the first step of this project and was completed in April 2018. Herbicide was applied to cut stems of Tartarian honeysuckle and other exotic invasive shrubs. Deer fencing was installed in 2019 to protect native shrubs, such as gray stem dogwood, from browsing deer. Live staking was completed on the banks of Slab Cabin Run to control erosion and increase native vegetation. Additional invasive removal and native plantings have been completed along the confluence of Slab Cabin Run and Thompson Run. The next steps include focused and controlled herbicide applications in 2020 and 2021 to eradicate the non-native, invasive species in the specified area, followed by native plantings in 2021 through 2023. Replacing non-native, invasive plant species with native plants, shrubs, and trees will increase the overall habitat and food sources for native wildlife. Partner groups will provide funding and in-kind service to complete the restoration at no cost to the Nature Center.

  • In 2017, Agency staff reevaluated how program participants are tracked and counted. Under the previous tracking method, some participants of repeating programs were counted twice. Attendees at internal meetings held onsite were also counted. Since these numbers were not an accurate count of program and rental participation, a new tracking system was created and implemented at the beginning of 2018. Because of this change to more accurate tracking, there is a decrease in reported visitation in 2018 when compared to previous years. Staff estimate that actual program and rental participation and overall visitation are still on an upward trend however, this trend will not be apparent when comparing 2017 and 2018 visitation. With the new tracking in place, comparing 2018 to 2019 data shows the return of the upward trend in visitation and program participation.

  • The Puddle Jumpers program, the first nature play program of its kind in the region, was expanded at the beginning of 2019. Previously, the Puddle Jumpers program for preschool-aged children was offered Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This program is very popular, and many sessions are filled with waitlists. Because of this high demand, staff added an afternoon program, starting with the Spring 2019 session. This program expansion increased revenue and provided additional regular hours for program leaders, which helped to attract and maintain quality instructors. Puddle Jumpers continues to be popular with full registration and waitlists for both morning and afternoon sessions, however, the program is currently limited to two days a week due to the Spring Creek Education Building (SCEB) operating at capacity. Phase II of the SCEB includes a permanent classroom for the Puddle Jumpers program which will allow the program to be expanded to five days a week. Construction to complete Phase II is scheduled to begin in 2022 and conclude in 2023.

  • The Nature Center lease between the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority and The Pennsylvania State University was extended in April 2019. During the 2018 budget process, members of the General Forum expressed concerns over funding capital improvements at Millbrook Marsh due to Penn State’s ownership of the structures when the lease expires. As a result, staff began discussions with Penn State, exploring all foreseeable options, such as changing the type of lease from a tenant lease to a commercial lease. Changing to a commercial lease would cost thousands of dollars each year as the Authority would be required to pay the value of the property annually to Penn State. Because the current tenant lease is for $1 per year, this drastic increase is not currently feasible. A 99-year lease was requested and denied by the university. The compromise that was accepted by both parties and the General Forum was a lease extension to 40 years following the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the Phase II expansion of the Spring Creek Education Building. The 40-year extension was chosen because that is the depreciation of the planned new facilities. ClearWater Conservancy, which holds the conservation easement on the wetland at Millbrook Marsh, will also seek an extension to cover the same years as the Authority lease.

  • A volunteer painted and installed 15 bluebird boxes in the marsh in 2019. Two of the boxes were donated by the State College Friends School. In addition to Eastern bluebirds, American tree swallows and house wrens have also been seen using these new boxes.

  

WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 

 


 

 

 Chapter 29 - Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Millbrook Marsh Nature Center (MMNC) - Capital Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The mission of the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center Capital Budget is to provide funds for the improvements listed on the Master Site Plan, including the Spring Creek Education Building, the Welcome Center, and visitor parking as approved by the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority and the COG General Forum. This fund also addresses the major routine and preventative maintenance needs at the Nature Center.


WHO ARE WE?

Since 1997, the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center (MMNC) has been a destination in the heart of the Centre Region that offers quality environmental education programs, a friendly staff, and a beautiful setting that protects our important regional wetland. The Nature Center consists of a 12-acre farmstead and a 50-acre marsh area in College Township. The land is home to two main structures: a historic, restored barn and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified Silver facility, the Spring Creek Education Building (SCEB). Two smaller structures found on the 12-acre farmstead are a service building that houses staff offices and a small maintenance garage. The site also contains a boardwalk, hiking trails, picnic tables, pavilions, and wildlife viewing areas that visitors utilize daily. Since its initial development, the Nature Center has expanded its programs and rental opportunities and drop-in traffic continues to increase greatly among residents and visitors.


WHAT DO WE DO?

 

 A.  Plan, develop, and support future additions to the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center through a capital building campaign, donations,              grants, and other sources to extend the ability to offer quality programs and recreation options.


Ongoing Contributions…

  • Continue working towards the 2022-2023 construction of the Phase II expansion of the Spring Creek Education Building and the Welcome Pavilion.

  • Continue to make connections with past and potential donors for upcoming capital projects.

  • Continue to monitor, evaluate, and maintain the overall site and its facilities.



OF PARTICULAR NOTE

  • The full replacement of the Barn’s fire sprinkler system was completed in 2018. The dry sprinkler system in the unheated Nature Center Barn was installed in 1999 and experienced several leaks/breakages and repairs due to interior rusting of the supply pipes.

  • Improvements to the Barn roof were completed in May 2019; a protective rubber coating was installed along with snow guards and new gutters and downspouts. This project was completed using an $80,000 loan from the Centre Region Code Administration, financed over five years, along with approximately $2,500 from the Capital Improvement Budget. The Barn is slated to have the siding power washed and stained in 2019 as well as the existing Spring Creek Education Building in 2020.

  • Power washing and re-staining of the barn and Spring Creek Education Building occurred in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

  • A garage door was installed on the side of the Service Building in 2020 for egress safety and to increase energy efficiency.

  • A new welcome sign was designed and installed near the entrance to the visitor parking lot in November 2020 thanks to grant funding provided by the Happy Valley Visitors Bureau.
      
  • Roof replacement on the large pavilion was completed in early 2021 thanks to donated funds provided by a longstanding supporter. Materials for the roof were changed from cedar shake shingles to an exposed fastener metal roof to increase the lifespan, match the barn and Spring Creek Education Building, and as an eco-friendly option. The total project cost was $5,175.

  • For the Phase I construction of the Spring Creek Education Building, donations from the municipalities were requested but were handled one-on-one with each municipality, under the second amendment of the lease. During the Spring of 2017, MMNC Advisory Committee members approached the individual municipalities to request funding support for the Phase II development of the Spring Creek Education Building. During several of those meetings, the MMNC Advisory Committee received feedback that their current process should be standardized through the COG Capital Improvement Program. Additionally, the same discussion occurred at several 2017 COG Parks Capital Committee meetings; feedback received from the Committee was to not only standardize the funding requests through the COG Capital Improvement Program but to also review the MMNC Facility Lease to ensure that the municipalities have a lease that extends far enough into the future for full depreciation of the municipalities’ investments. The new lease with the contingent 40-year term is in place as of July 2019.

    During 2017, MMNC staff discussed with municipal officials the idea of the municipalities contributing a combined total of $400,000 to the cost of the Phase II addition to the Spring Creek Education Building. The cost would be split across the 2018 and 2019 budgets ($200,000 each year). Two concerns were expressed. First, the amount of the request was too high given constrained municipal budgets. Second, the term of the Authority/Penn State University lease for the MMNC did not provide adequate time to depreciate the cost of the building addition, and the building would revert to the University when the lease expired.

    To address the second concern, meetings were held that included the University, MMNC, CRPA, and COG staff regarding the term of the lease. From these discussions, a proposal emerged that would extend the lease for forty years after a Certificate of Occupancy was issued for the Phase II building addition. Forty years is the typical period for COG’s building depreciation. By way of example, if a Certificate of Occupancy for the education building was issued in 2023 then the lease would run through 2063. The Authority and the University both agreed to this addendum to the lease, and it was endorsed by the General Forum. Additionally, it should not be assumed that the lease, at that time, would not renew.

    With the lease extended to coincide with the depreciation schedule for the building addition, the five participating municipalities approved during the 2021 budget process to contribute a combined total of $200,000 to the project dispersed over 8 quarters at $25,000/quarter, from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2023.

  • Phase II of the Spring Creek Education Building (SCEB) continues to progress with fundraising complete as of April 2021 and staff working with the project architect and engineer on a project variance for the land development plan, updated land development plan, construction documents, updated project budget, and the timeline for bidding. The project includes two classrooms, a large meeting and event space, two additional restrooms, and sustainable features to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver Certification. The existing SCEB is currently the only temperature-controlled space on-site. It is only able to accommodate one group at a time, due to sound constraints, and is limited to 50 people per floor. As part of the Phase II expansion, the existing first-floor space will be converted into a Visitors Center with a docent greeter, gift shop, and educational displays.

    Funding for this project is supported by community gifts and local foundations, grants awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) ($300,000) and Pennsylvania Department of Community Economic Development ($250,000), and $200,000 in municipal support from College, Ferguson, Harris, and Patton townships and the State College Borough.

  • Work toward the construction of the Welcome Pavilion (to be located near the visitor parking area) continues. A $300,000 pledge for matching funds for the project was received from a local foundation in April 2021. With those matching funds, a grant proposal was submitted to PA DCNR in April 2021 and included a $166,800 funding request for the Welcome Pavilion. If awarded full funding by PA DCNR through their Community Conservation and Partnerships Program, construction of the Welcome Pavilion could begin in 2022.

  • The nearly 3,000 linear foot boardwalk through the 50-acre wetland is reaching the end of its lifespan. In January 2020, three sections of the boardwalk were closed due to damage and unsafe conditions to the structure caused by high-volume storm events that occurred over a short period of time. Minor repairs to two sections of the boardwalk were completed in April 2020 and allowed the Nature Center to safely reopen those sections for public use. The section of the boardwalk and bridge that spans over Thompson Run to the intersecting area near the bird blind remains closed due to unsafe conditions and the need for extensive repair and replacement.

    A Boardwalk Feasibility Study Working group was assembled in February 2020 to begin the process to assess the structure and next steps. Professional services to conduct a thorough feasibility study were deemed necessary by the working group. Through a request for proposal process, the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority, PA DCNR, and COG Facilities Committee approved and contracted professional services to conduct Part I of the Boardwalk Feasibility Study. Contractor work began in November 2020 with site visits conducted in December 2020. The scope of the Part I study includes reviewing data and documents, regular meetings with the working group and staff, assessing permitting needs for site assessment, preparing a Basis of Design, and a final report to include: a minimum of four design options with a looped rail system, a general schematic of the trail system layout, permitting requirements for the layout, capital, operational/maintenance, and comparative life-cycle costs for the concepts, and advantages and disadvantages of each concept against the other composed concepts. Funding for the study is supported by PA DCNR ($10,000) and a match from the municipalities ($10,000). A final Part I Boardwalk Feasibility Study report is expected to be completed and approved in July 2021.

    Staff is currently exploring funding options for the Part II study which will include some additional site testing and surveys, stream bank stabilization analysis, 30% design documents, detailed construction cost estimates, permitting requirements, and possible funding sources.



WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.

 


 

 

 Chapter 30 - Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) - Regional Parks - Capital Budget

Updated – August 2021


MISSION

The purpose of the Regional Parks Capital Budget is to provide for the jointly financed capital costs associated with the development of the three regional parks that the municipalities acquired through the Centre Region Council of Governments (COG). The three parks are:

 John Hess Softball Complex
 Size: 21 acres in Harris Township.
 Opened: 2011.
 Ownership: Owned by the COG (College, Ferguson, Harris, Patton Townships, and State College Borough).

 

 Oak Hall Regional Park
 Size: 68 acres in College and Harris Townships.
 Opened: May 2015.
 Ownership: Owned by the COG (College, Harris, Patton Townships, and State College Borough).

 

 Whitehall Road Regional Park
 Size: 100 acres in Ferguson Township.
 Opened: TBD.
 Ownership: This property is jointly owned by the COG (College, Ferguson, Harris, Patton Townships, and State College Borough) and
 Ferguson Township.
 Note: The Land Development Plan for the Phase 1 development of this park was approved in December 2019. Based on the secured financing 
 voted on at the May 2021 General Forum meeting, the development of this park will begin in earnest. It is hoped that the Authority will break
 ground in early fall with the project construction tentatively set to be complete in late 2022; the grass fields will then set for an additional growing 
 season before they will be utilized.  



WHO ARE WE?

The Regional Parks Capital Budget was established to be a repository of funds relating to the development of three regional parks. The Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority was designated, through Articles of Agreement adopted by the participating municipalities, as the entity responsible for regional park development and operations. The Regional Parks Capital Budget is the budget that the CRPR Authority uses to carry out the charge given to it by the municipalities acting collectively through the General Forum.

Since the Authority has no independent funding sources, major policy issues relating to regional parks are discussed with the Parks Capital Committee, as established in 2008, with the adoption of revised Articles of Agreement for the Centre Region COG. Under this agreement, the responsibilities of the Parks Capital Committee are:

  • To recommend the designation of regional park facilities to the General Forum. It should be noted that during its June 14, 2018 meeting, the Committee asked the General Forum to designate the two community pools and Millbrook Marsh Nature Center as regional parks.

  • To develop and recommend a funding strategy for the planning, development, and operation of regional park facilities to the General Forum.

  • To cooperate with the CRPR Authority in the preparation of recommended master site plans for regional recreation facilities for referral to the General Forum and/or the participating municipalities.

  • To study and prepare recommendations on regional parks for the COG Executive Committee.

 

WHAT DO WE DO?

 A.  Cooperatively establish a framework for the ownership, management, planning, development, and operation of regional parks and 
       implement those processes with the participating municipalities.

 

Ongoing Contributions…

  • Identify, evaluate, and recommend options to fund the Phase I development of the regional parks. After the Phase I development is complete, this budget may be used to finance: Phase II construction at the regional parks, repairs of Phase I installations, or a centralized parks maintenance building, should the General Forum decide that the continued renting of a maintenance facility is not the best option.

  • Monitor the regional park project loan financing to ensure that it is the most cost-effective option available to the participating municipalities. This review includes interest rates, loan periods, and opportunities to lower costs. In 2017, the Oak Hall and Whitehall Road Regional Parks loan was modified, which provided a lower interest rate over the term of the loan. It also provided an additional three years to draw funds for park construction with a final draw date of June 1, 2020. In May 2021, the General Forum voted to refinance the Pools and Regional Parks loans as a bundle to lock in a lower interest rate and to secure additional funding for the Phase I project at Whitehall Road Regional Park.

  • The CRPR Authority and the COG Parks Capital Committee meet together to review and approve project plans and progress for the regional parks. Previously, the groups also coordinated the renovations of the two community swimming pools. Actions that are necessary to proceed with the regional parks are then recommended to the General Forum.


OF PARTICULAR NOTE


With John Hess Softball Complex and Oak Hall Regional Park open and operating, the 2022 Regional Parks Program Plan is focused on the Phase I development of the Whitehall Road Regional Park within the new budget approved by the General Forum in May 2021, as well as beginning to plan future phases of improvements for all three Regional Parks.

In 2011, the Centre Regional Recreation Authority (now known as the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority) entered into a $7,578,800 loan with Fulton Bank. The loan was incurred to fund improvements at Oak Hall Regional Park and Whitehall Road Regional Park. The Phase I Oak Hall Regional Park Project is complete and the remaining $4.8 million is designated for Phase I of the Whitehall Road Regional Park project. The repayment of this loan was guaranteed by the municipalities that participate in the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Program, known as the Park Partners. The loan has been modified by the Authority and participating municipalities several times since 2011.

During the first half of 2020, the Regional Parks loan with Fulton Bank was amended to extend the final draw date from June 1, 2020 to June 1, 2022 and to extend the fixed term of the loan (fixed at 2.59%) until December 2024. The draft 2020 cost estimate for Phase I of the Whitehall Road Regional Park project is $6.3 million. Even combining the grants and donations to date (current total: $1,000,000) with the $4.8 million in loan funds, the project was not fully funded. A funding /prioritization discussion was started during the 2021 Budget Cycle with a Lunch and Learn program for newly elected officials held in September 2020. Through the next few months, the Agency staff and COG Finance Director continued to educate the General Forum about the park’s shortfall and possible options to find additional funding so that the Phase I project could be built as designed.

Since the Agency was only working with budget numbers, in October 2020 the General Forum approved the Agency to go to bid for the park project in order to receive current construction costs. Bids were placed with PennBid in November and bids closed in December 2020. Several de-scoping meetings were held with potential bidders to vet each bid and ensure an understanding of the project. Once the final tally was made, the project only had a shortfall of just under $600,000, but the project still contained three unfunded items valued at $775,000 which were not included in the initial bidding. That began the discussion of how to build this park without removing any amenities, to build it with fewer amenities, and/or to explore other funding options that could provide funds for the shortfall and the unfunded items. The Finance Committee then proposed to look at refinancing both the Pools’ loan and the Regional Parks loan to see if any additional savings could be found and what the costs would be to add additional funding.

The most recent loan modification was approved in May 2021 to refinance the Regional Pools and Regional Parks loans as a bundle, to reduce the interest rate, and to add additional funding necessary to complete Phase I of Whitehall Road Regional Park.

According to the terms of the amendment prior to the current refinancing of the loans, all funds had to be drawn down (used) by June 1, 2020. Other requirements prior to the current refinancing included:

      • The date of the final draw will be extended from June 1, 2017, to June 1, 2020.
      • The fixed interest rate will be reduced from 2.80% to 2.59% through 2022.
      • No change in maturity date or guarantees. There will be no prepayment penalty.
      • To draw an additional $167,798 on the loan and place the proceeds in a deposit account at Fulton Bank.
      • A loan modification fee due to Fulton Bank of $2,500.

 

During its May 24, 2021 meeting, the General Forum approved Resolution 2021–5 as follows:

“That the General Forum as recommended by the Finance Committee and the COG financial consultant, adopt Resolution 2021-5 that: Requests that the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority approve the financing proposal for the re-financing of the pool loan
submitted by Jersey Shore State Bank; and, Authorizes the execution of a Participation Agreement; and, Authorizes COG officers to execute
all documents required for the debt to occur.”
 


And Resolution 2021-6 is as follows:

“That the General Forum as recommended by the Finance Committee and the COG financial consultant, adopt Resolution 2021-6 that:   Requests that the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority approve the financing proposal for the re-financing of the parks loan
submitted by Jersey Shore State Bank; and, Authorizes the execution of a Participation Agreement; and, Authorizes COG officers to execute
all documents required for the debt to occur.” 

 

Based on the General Forum’s action on May 24, 2021, the Authority approved a modification to the loan agreement as described above, by approving Resolutions 2021-05-24-01 (Regional Pools loan) and 2021-05-24-02 (Regional Parks loan).

As the General Forum is aware, the facilities that the park will contain are directly linked to the development of the adjoining property. The development of the adjoining property has been litigated at Centre County Court, Commonwealth Court, and ultimately at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In December 2017, the PA Supreme Court ruled in favor of the developer, thereby ending the litigation. The developer agreed to extend Blue Course Drive to the park at no cost to the COG. Sewer, water, electric, and gas service will also be installed up to the park’s property line. Overall, the provision of road access and utility service will save the park project over $1,200,000.

In May 2018 and again in 2019, per the 2017 motion noted above, the Agency Director provided an update on the park project to the General Forum. The report included: a review of park amenities, a tentative timeline, and it was re-stated that the current budget remains at the $4.8 million level, unless additional grant funds or private donations are secured. Through several years of grant work and donations, the Agency and Authority were able to add just over $1,000,000 to the park’s development budget. In 2020, the Agency Director, COG Finance Director, and COG Executive Director began work in September 2020 to educate the newly elected officials about the park project to find solutions to the funding shortfall which included approximately $580,000 based on the construction bids and the unfunded items totaling approximately $775,000.

In November 2020, the Authority was asked to go to bid on the project in order to have “real-time” construction costs and to use those costs to rebuild the budget. Bidding was completed in December 2020 and the budget was prepared for presentation to the General Forum in January 2021. At that time, the elected officials were not ready to decide on the funding; therefore, the bids were held for an additional 45 days, taking the figures through the end of March 2021. No decision was made at the March 2021 meeting, so those bids were rejected. It was determined that Mr. Chris Gibbons from Concord Financial Public Advisors would be hired to research modifications to the Pools and Parks loans as a bundle. Mr. Gibbons presented his information at several April committees, and the Agency Director and Authority members also reviewed the possible loan modifications and possible Phase I modifications in line with the Phase I construction budget.

This work culminated at the May 24, 2021, General Forum meeting with a vote to endorse a refinancing of both loans as a bundle, securing a 1.25% interest rate for the Pools loan locked in for the life of the loan which is through 2028 (original loan ending date); additionally, a 1.33% Parks loan interest rate locked in through June 1, 2031, with a variable rate thereafter with a cap of 2.5%. The Parks loan was offered a 36-month drawdown period as well. The General Forum was entertaining a vote on what was called the Contingent Option: approve the borrowing of $9 million but only authorizing the amount to be drawn by the CRPR Authority up to the level of Option 1B ($770,180). The remaining $816,670 to be drawn would need to be approved at a later date by a unanimous vote of the participating municipalities of the Parks Agency.  The refinancing closed on June 30, 2021.


WHERE ARE WE NOW? AND WHERE ARE WE GOING?

To find out more about “Where We Are Now” and “Where We are Going”, please see the most current COG Program Plan at www.crcog.net.