Mt. Lebanon school board mulls tax hike
The Mt. Lebanon school board is weighing a tax increase of somewhere between .25 mills and .55 mills for the upcoming school year, driven mostly by increasing pension costs.
As the district works on its 2013-14 budget, administrators came to the school board Tuesday asking for general guidance as to how much of a tax increase they could work with.
Finance Director Jan Klein said the district has averaged a .55-mill increase over the past eight years. In 2011, taxes increased by 2.52 mills to cover the district's first round of borrowing for the high school renovation project. In 2008 and 2012, tax hikes were not required.
She presented these scenarios:
• Without a tax hike, the district would have a $1.8 million shortfall between revenues and expenses.
• If it raised taxes to the state-set limit of .46 mills and didn't claim any exceptions, the district would have a $960,000 shortfall.
• If the district raised taxes by the eight-year average of .55 mills, the shortfall would be about $870,000.
• A .89-mill tax increase would be enough to eliminate any anticipated budget deficits without cuts, but would require claiming all the available exemptions to the state's Act 1 limit.
Projected shortfalls are driven mostly by a state requirement that the district increase its pension fund contributions from 12.36 percent to 16.93 percent of payroll. A 5 percent increase in health-care costs, contractually mandated raises for teachers, and a potential grievance from the teacher's union also contribute, Klein said.
Klein and Superintendent Timothy Steinhauer said they have started considering potential cuts under the .55-mill tax increase scenario, including further reductions to custodial and IT staff; fewer travel expenses for administrators, teachers and board consultants; and leaving more staff positions unfilled as employees retire. Officials want to avoid making cutbacks that will affect learning, Steinhauer said.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.