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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

State College Balancing its Budget One Drink at a Time

Between my two daughters and myself, we've attended seven different colleges in cities large and small over the years. You get kind of used to having your wallet lightened along the way, but a current proposal in State College, Pa., has me feeling sorry for faculty and students -- even if they are fans of the Nittany Lions.

The State College Borough Council is talking about slapping a per-drink tax on alcoholic beverages sold at restaurants and bars in the town that is home to Penn State University. The municipality says the tax will go to pay for services used by problem drinkers and for police.

The tax would be on top of various other federal and state excise taxes placed on alcohol. In Pennsylvania, an 18 percent alcohol tax already generates more than $200 million a year for the state.

The per-drink tax idea might not be limited to State College. Borough officials believe they will get more support in the state capital for the legislation if it would be open for use by all Pennsylvania college towns. West Chester, Pa., which is the home of West Chester University, has been lobbying for a similar law recently. So in addition to everything from the hotel bed tax they receive on parents weekend to the parking fines they collect on football Saturdays, college towns may have uncovered another method of extracting a few more dollars from those associated with the schools they are so proud to call their own.

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