Three items in Mt. Lebanon's proposed 2014 budget totaling $55,000 pertain to deer management. Still, most of the comment during Tuesday's public hearing on the $30.3 million spending plan that would not raise taxes addressed concerns about the municipality's plans regarding deer.
"I'm against using our tax dollars, personally, to endanger our lives with shooting," Sleepy Hollow Road resident Stacey Chick said about the possibility of a cull. "If we're putting money forth, we should put it forth in a responsible way."
Kimberly Schevtchuck of Lyndhurst Avenue echoed Ms. Chick's comments, urging the board to "put emphasis on safe measures to address deer concerns."
Commissioners have been deliberating on how best to address deer management but have made no firm decisions as 2014 approaches. Several options have been examined, from culling to relatively untried methods such as sterilization and birth control.
The proposed budget, which holds the property tax line at 4.51 mills, includes a list of 290 "decision units," items for potential funding that were ranked "in order of overall priority of importance to municipal operations," according to the budget package presented by municipal manager Stephen Feller. The top 188 items are recommended for funding.
Deer management education, with a proposed cost of $5,000, and preparation of a deer management plan, $10,000, appear on the rankings just above the cutoff. Slightly below is $40,000 toward contracting deer-management services.
The $40,000 figure represents a "placeholder" amount, to be determined more accurately when a course of action is chosen, Commissioner Dave Brumfield said.
"Steve has to prepare a budget to give commissioners choices and options throughout the year," he said.
Newburn Drive resident Barbara Sollenberger said that with regard to deer, she supports efforts to more fully educate residents.
"They can at least co-exist in ways that are less stressful for them," she said.
Commissioner Kristen Linfante, who supports lowering the local deer population as a safety measure, said she regularly receives calls from residents with concerns about the presence of the animals throughout Mt. Lebanon.
"I don't see how we can put ourselves in the position of putting the deer before us," she told Ms. Sollenberger.
"I fully support education," Ms. Linfante added. "I don't think it's something we're trying to skirt."
Commissioner Kelly Fraasch requested that the municipal public information office continue to examine options for further public education.
One resident spoke Tuesday in support of efforts to reduce the deer population.
"It's about safety. That's the main thing," said Dave Egler of Poplar Drive. "There's a deer problem in this town. You can't go out without seeing two or three every night."
Regarding the budget, commissioners will hold their second work session today and a final one on Monday. A second public hearing is scheduled for the commissioners' Dec. 10 meeting, at which the budget's adoption is expected.
Copies of the budget are available at the municipal building and Mt. Lebanon Public Library and on the municipal website, www.mtlebanon.org.
Harry Funk, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.