Mt. Lebanon's $32.8 million budget for 2014 keeps tax rate unchanged

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Mt. Lebanon commissioners on Tuesday adopted a 2014 budget of $32.8 million that maintains the property tax rate at 4.51 mills.

The measure was approved unanimously, although Commissioner Kristen Linfante said after the vote that she doesn't agree with the decision not to include money for deer management.

The budget does allocate $5,000 for deer-management education and $10,000 toward a deer-management plan, but $40,000 proposed for implementation of a program is not included.

"I think it's just another way of avoiding what I believe will have to be the inevitable," said Ms. Linfante, who has been an outspoken advocate of conducting a cull, which the municipality last did in 2008. "I refuse, as a commissioner, to put the well-being of deer before the well-being of residents."

Commissioners also approved amendments to the 2013 budget as a year-end reconciliation.

Commissioner Kelly Fraasch attempted to have one of the expenditures pulled from the motion for a separate vote: $637,400 toward the installation of artificial turf on the Wildcat and Middle fields at Mt. Lebanon's main park. Last month, she and Matt Kluck, commission president, voted against the allocation.

They voted Tuesday in favor of separating the item among the amendments but were outvoted by the three commissioners who approved the allocation in November.

The project calls for an eventual municipal allocation of $750,000, with the rest of the nearly $1 million estimated total covered by private funds.

"I don't think it's a very good plan," said Mr. Kluck, who was attending his final meeting as commissioner.

"We have a lot of ifs and buts as to where that plan is going."Commissioner John Bendel, though, said athletic groups that will be using the fields are already working toward raising the additional money.

In other business:

• Academy Avenue resident Karen Durham expressed concern about parking spaces on her street.

In October, commissioners voted to eliminate six spots on a six-month basis in response to concerns about traffic safety on the street.

Ms. Durham said the measure has a particularly adverse effect on residents in the apartment building where she lives because many of them are older and have physical limitations. She suggested that enforcement of the 25-mph speed limit on Academy Avenue, or possibly lowering it, would sufficiently address safety issues.

Although Ms. Durham requested the parking spaces be reinstated as soon as possible, commissioners offered no reply.

• Commissioners announced they plan a Jan. 6 discussion about appointing a municipal treasurer before the annual reorganization meeting.

Joseph Senko has held the post on an interim basis since October. John Ferguson, the elected treasurer, died earlier that month but remained on the November ballot and finished ahead of write-in candidates, including Mr. Senko and Jack Goldschmidt. Commissioners will consider those two residents for the position, which could face elimination during 2014, according to Commissioner Dave Brumfield.

Harry Funk, freelance writer:

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