Appeals cloud Mt. Lebanon taxes
By Matthew Santoni
Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The Mt. Lebanon School District's budget is expected to grow by about 1.9 percent in the next school year, but whether homeowners see a tax increase or decrease will depend on the results of the court-mandated reassessment that took effect in 2013.
The district's $83.16 million budget for the 2013-14 school year will get a final vote at the Monday board meeting, setting the new tax rate at 22.61 mills, or $2,261 for each $100,000 of a home's assessed value. That's 4.52 mills less than the current rate and 5.02 mills — 18 percent — less than the rate the district proposed to balance its budget before factoring in new property values from the reassessment.
Whether a homeowner's tax bill goes up or down depends on how much his or her assessment changed compared to the community's tax base. State law prohibits governments from leaving their tax rates the same after a countywide reassessment and reaping a “windfall” from the increase in property values.
“Our tax rate decreased by about 20 percent ... so the rule of thumb is, if your assessment went up by less than 20 percent, you'll get a tax decrease; if it went up by more than 20 percent, you'll get a tax increase,” said Jan Klein, the district's finance director.
The tax base the district is working with is only an estimate at this point, as thousands of appeals wait to be heard and adjudicated across Allegheny County.
“I'm hoping (the budget) is as accurate as I can be at this point,” Klein said. She said assessments on about $125 million worth of property in Mt. Lebanon are being appealed.
In Mt. Lebanon, the value of all taxable property rose from $2.17 billion under the old assessments to about $2.7 billion under the new ones. Klein estimated that appeals will bring that value back down slightly to about $2.6 billion, which is the number she used to calculate the new millage rate.
Any additional revenue brought in above the 1.9 percent increase will be set aside to make refunds to property owners whose assessment are lowered through appeal.
“If I'm too conservative (in the estimates), our millage rate goes too high, and that's not fair to the people in our community either,” Klein said.
Working with the old assessed values, the school board had planned for a 0.5-mill tax increase, new fees and spending cuts to balance the budget without using the district's $5 million reserves.
The fees and cuts will remain. Students will pay higher parking and activity fees; staff will be cut; and spending cuts will be enacted on school supplies, travel and consultants.
Board member Larry Lebowitz said he was glad the district wouldn't use its reserves. The teachers union has filed a grievance over back pay, he said. If the ruling goes against the district, reserves would be needed to pay any award.
Monday's board meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. in the library at Jefferson Middle School on Moffett Street.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or email@example.com.
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.
- Young Achiever: Alexis Werner
- Dormont hands over management of pool
- Theraputic League teaches Western Pa. students value of sports beyond wins and losses
- No plans for Marshall to amend oil, gas drilling ordinance
- Dormont business gaps traced
- Swing for a Cure tennis event Sunday in Shadyside