Property tax rate expected to drop in Mt. Lebanon

Proposed budget would keep services

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Mt. Lebanon property owners could pay less in real estate taxes next year if the recommended $29.6 million municipal operating budget is approved this winter.

Manager Stephen Feller said the municipality expects the tax rate will decrease from its current 5.43 mills to between 4.4 and 4.89 mills because of Allegheny County reassessments and state anti-windfall rules, which require governing bodies to lower millage rates to reflect higher overall property values.

A millage reduction would decrease property owners' tax bills by $54 to $103 for a home valued at $100,000. The median home value in Mt. Lebanon is slightly more than $200,000.

The recommended spending plan for 2013 assumes property reassessments will result in an increase of 5 percent over real estate revenue received in 2012.

The millage rate will depend on the results of appeals.

The budget is balanced with both ongoing revenue sources and available reserves and would cut no services or personnel.

"I think, considering the difficult economic times, this is a conservative plan that reflects those times," Mr. Feller said. "There aren't a lot of new programs or expanded service levels, but we are maintaining the essential services that the residents have come to expect."

The recommended operating budget funds basic services provided by the government. Most of the funds would be spent on public safety services, the cost of which has risen 3.2 percent, and on wages and benefits, Mr. Feller said.

The proposed $12 million capital projects fund would include $2.1 million to fully reconstruct 1.25 miles of streets, including curb replacement.

In September, the commission outlined 12 priorities for the 2013 budget, resulting in the proposed plan, which includes no cuts in public safety personnel or service levels and $129,700 in funding to replace three patrol vehicles with cars that have new cameras and other technology, among other improvements.

The spending plan also would fund park upgrades and tree maintenance, neighborhood traffic calming measures and environmental sustainability efforts.

It also would provide $25,000 in funding for a study to guide potential developers of a planned mixed-use building and parking garage near the Mt. Lebanon Light Transit Rail station that officials are calling the municipality's major development opportunity. Another $75,000 for the study will come from a county grant.

Mr. Feller said the commission is expected to vote at its next meeting to borrow $5.5 million for pool renovations, athletic field upgrades, golf course renovations and parking at Mt. Lebanon Park.

The proposed spending plan anticipates the commission will proceed with a bond, which four of five commissioners pledged support for earlier in the year.

A stormwater fee approved in 2011 to fund operation and maintenance costs related to draining and flood problems will remain at $8 per dwelling unit per month.

In 2013, those funds will be used for maintenance, curb reconstruction and significant stormwater system reconstruction.

In August, the commission adopted a measure that required the manager's recommended budget to include funding for street construction but to incur no debt or raise real estate taxes to fund that construction.

Copies of the budget are available in the Mt. Lebanon municipal building.

A public hearing on the spending plan is scheduled for Tuesday, and a final version is scheduled to be approved Dec. 11.

neigh_south

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944.


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