Share This Page

Mt. Lebanon school directors give 'preliminary final' OK to 2013-14 budget

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Mt. Lebanon school directors are moving ahead with an $83.25 million budget for the 2013-14 school year that includes a 0.54-mill tax increase, though officials said they are hoping to reduce that before the final vote in May.

Board members approved the “preliminary final” budget by a 6-3 vote on Monday, with Scott Goldman, Dale Ostergaard and Daniel Remely opposed. After whittling down an anticipated $1.8 million shortfall with the tax increase, new fees and cuts to spending on staffing, consultants and travel, the district nudged the tax increase down from 0.55 mills to 0.54 — a difference of $1 a year for every $100,000 of a property's assessed value.

Goldman said he thought the board spent a lot of time debating small cuts.

“When I brought up closing an elementary school — which I wouldn't support but is something I think we'll eventually see — I hadn't finished my sentence before being told we wouldn't entertain that idea,” he said. “There are hard discussions that need to be made, and I don't think we've made them.”

Others on the board disagreed, noting the large amount of pushback from parents and teachers that the proposed cuts brought.

“From the turnout we get just for the small cuts ... I think I can foresee the response we'd get from making one of those big cuts like closing a school,” said board President Elaine Cappucci.

The board will consider tweaking some items in the budget, such as charging students an activities fee for participating in after-school clubs or sports. It may also still draw money from cash reserves to lower the tax increase.

If approved as it is, the new tax rate would be 27.67 mills, or $2,767 for each $100,000 of a home's assessed value. That rate will have to be lowered for the court-ordered reassessments that take effect this year, because state law limits the windfall that taxing bodies can get from the increase in home values. Owners whose property values went up less than the average for Mt. Lebanon might actually experience a reduction in their tax bills.

The public will have 30 days to review the budget at the district's offices and offer comments before the final vote is taken.

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

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.