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Proposed $30.3M 2014 Mt. Lebanon budget has no tax increase, service cuts

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Mt. Lebanon staff introduced a proposed $30.3 million operating budget for 2014 this month, with no change in property taxes or cuts to services.

“This is by and large a fairly conservative, status-quo budget,” said municipal Manager Steve Feller. “But we've managed to keep all the municipal services that residents have gotten used to, that they like.”

The budget for day-to-day operations would increase by 1.4 percent over this year, and the overall budget including capital funds and separate funds for sewers, stormwater and parking assets would drop by 12.3 percent to $45.1 million.

Feller recommends the commission float $4 million in bonds over the next year to pay for improvements such as maintenance on the municipality's two parking garages, a new roof for the municipal building and an electric Zamboni for the ice rink.

Finance Director Andrew McCreery said the bond should not require any tax increase, because most of the debt would be repaid from the parking fund and the stormwater fee.

If commissioners decide to add any other capital projects before adopting a final budget, the municipality would be able to borrow slightly more before having to consider any tax increases, he said.

Under Mt. Lebanon's “zero-based” budgeting system, departments start with the most basic level of services and add layers of programs that are then ranked according to need.

The proposed budget includes $10,000 to develop a deer management plan required by the state game commission before any population-control measures can take place, but it doesn't fund a $40,000 line item for actually culling deer.

The budget also doesn't include $1.05 million to add artificial turf to a pair of fields in Mt. Lebanon Park. Both proposals have been discussed at length by commissioners, and could be funded if a majority agrees to amend the budget.

Budget review sessions set for Nov. 6, 14 and 18 are to be broadcast on the municipal cable channel in the days following those meetings. A public hearing where residents can offer comments is scheduled for 8 p.m. Nov. 12 in the commission chambers; another hearing is scheduled Dec. 10 for comments on any revisions that commissioners make to the budget.

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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