Bond issue approved by Mt. Lebanon schools

$35 million borrowed will mean a half-mill tax hike over 3 years

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Mt. Lebanon School District residents can expect more taxes in each of the next three years to help pay for the renovated high school.

The school board on Monday approved a $34.745 million bond issue to complete the $109 million renovation. The district borrowed $75 million toward the project in 2009.

To cover capitalized interest on the new bond issue, the district plans to increase taxes by 0.2 mills in 2014-15, 0.194 mills in 2015-16 and 0.2 mills again in 2016-17. Capitalizing the interest will allow the district to accumulate revenue for three years before starting interest payments.

After fees and expenses, the district nets $32.95 million, which it will receive Sept. 24.

The auction for the bonds took place Monday, with Mesirow Financial of New York the winning bidder, offering an interest rate of 4.852 percent. In addition to the principal, the district will pay $31.725 million in interest through 2035.

"The timing was good," financial adviser Timothy Frenz of Janney Montgomery Scott told the school board during a meeting Monday night. "The market believes that interest rates are going to continue to march higher and higher."

He said the district will be eligible to refinance up to $32.8 million of the bonds should rates become more favorable in the future.

School board member Scott Goldman voted against the bond issue. At last week's board discussion meeting, Mr. Goldman said he favored structuring the debt in a manner that would result in paying less interest.

During that meeting, the tax increase related to the bond issue was estimated at a cumulative 0.55 mills over three years. Mr. Frenz attributed the new figure of 0.594 mills to interest rates having risen in the past week.

In other business Monday:

• The school board approved a pay raise for superintendent Timothy Steinhauer, retroactive to July 1. His new salary is $163,776, an increase of 4 percent.

Board president Elaine Cappucci said the district last year set six goals for the superintendent: good fiscal management, developing a strategic plan, continuing the high school renovation, maintaining academic achievement, increasing collaborations between the district and community and advancing learning through technology.

"Each of the goals has been met or exceeded," she said.

• Salary increases were approved for employees according to various contracts.

Teachers receive a 4.15 percent increase, as negotiated in 2010 for a contract that runs through the end of the 2014-15 school year. Food service employees will make an additional 3.05 percent, as called for in an agreement that expires June 30.

For 10-month clerical employees, aides and personal care assistants, the increase is 2.89 percent. Their contract is through 2016-17.

education - neigh_south

Harry Funk, freelance: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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