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Mt. Lebanon releases 2013 budget

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

Mt. Lebanon officials released their proposed 2013 budget last week, basing a small increase in expenditures on the assumption that property reassessments will generate at least 5 percent more tax revenue.

The $29.6 million operating budget represents a 1.8 increase over the current year, mostly from a increase in employees' wages and benefits, said municipal Manager Stephen Feller, who released the budget on Thursday.

Contractually obligated pay raises for 2013 will range from 2.75 to 3 percent, while noncontract employees are scheduled to get a 2.75 percent raise — totalling $9.6 million in wages for the municipality, or a $412,000 increase over this year.

There will be no increases in the earned-income tax or deed transfer tax, and the real estate tax rate is expected to decrease from 5.43 mills to between 4.4 and 4.89 mills, depending on the result of the countywide reassessments and any appeals. The municipality should have that information in December, Feller said.

“We're not even guessing at a millage rate yet, until we know more,” said Deputy Manager and Finance Director Marcia Taylor, noting that the proposed budget does not include a property tax rate. “If we don't know ours, the school district and the county don't know theirs, either.”

The budget does assume that the municipality will get the maximum allowable increase in property tax collections from reassessments, which should increase overall for the municipality, Feller said. State antiwindfall rules prohibit governments from reaping big benefits if assessed values go up. Governments are limited to a 5 percent increase in revenue or less, so they have to set millage rates that don't go above that.

“Certainly in communities like Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair, and most of the South Hills, the total assessed value is going up more than 5 percent,” Feller said.

Staffing is expected to remain the same with 143 full-time employees.

The municipality would add a part-time person to register and inspect rental units and apartments. Feller said the $30,700 salary would be covered by revenue brought in by fees and fines for code violations. The municipal estimates those as $25 to $65 per unit.

“Most people don't realize that we have about 3,500 multifamily units in Mt. Lebanon,” Feller said. “Many of these units are at least 50 years old and need to be properly maintained.”

The budget also includes money to replay $5.5 million worth of recreation-related bonds the commission is expected to approve this month.

The commission will review the budget at meetings at 6 p.m. Nov. 5, 8 and 14, with a public hearing during the Nov. 13 commission meeting at 8 p.m. in the municipal building. The commission will suggest revisions, and a second public hearing will be held Dec. 11, with a vote to approve the final budget scheduled for later that night.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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