Mt. Lebanon school budget could raise taxes 0.54 mills

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Mt. Lebanon school board plans to adopt a 2014-15 budget for the district that calls for a 0.54-mill property tax increase.

At Monday’s board discussion meeting, superintendent Timothy Steinhauer said that the nearly $88 million spending plan essentially is the same as presented last month, when the board approved a proposed version of the budget. A vote on the final budget will take place Monday. 

With the tax increase, the owner of a property with an assessed value of $187,300, which represents the median residential property value in Mt. Lebanon, would pay an additional $101.14. The district’s tax rate will rise to 23.15 mills.

Under provisions of Pennsylvania’s Taxpayer Relief Act, the district’s limit for raising taxes in 2014-15 is 0.47 mills. The district was granted an exception because of its mandatory contribution to the state’s Public School Employees' Retirement System, which is the equivalent of 0.46 mills for the coming academic year.

“We did not use all of that amount,” Janice Klein, district director of business, said about the exception. “Otherwise, our rate could have gone up 0.8 mills.”

To help mitigate the tax increase, the board decided to use $750,000 from the district’s fund balance.

Elaine Cappucci, board president, said that cuts totaling $475,856 were made during the process of arriving at a final budget.

In other business:

■ The board discussed plans to approve spending $15,000 for the district to continue as part of the consortium for Project Succeed, an alternative education program based at Keystone Oaks High School.

The agreement would allow Mt. Lebanon to send up to 15 students to the program, which holds evening classes. Nine juniors and seniors are attending during the current school year, and two are expected to graduate, said Ronald Davis, assistant superintendent.

The district previously had sent students to the now-defunct Alternative Center for Education at Parkway West Career and Technology Center. The cost for the ACE program was about $15,000 per student, according to Mr. Davis.

“This was really a cost-beneficial program,” he said about Project Succeed, which has helped more than 2,000 students earn their diplomas since it was founded in 1988.

Along with Mt. Lebanon and Keystone Oaks, other school districts in the Project Succeed consortium are Brentwood, Carlynton, Chartiers Valley, Moon Area, Montour, South Fayette, Quaker Valley and West Allegheny.

■ Four district policies recommended for revision were the topic of a board discussion. The policies pertain to “development of alternate sources of funding for the district’s educational programs and facilities,” including a capital campaign to raise money through donations from private sources.

The revisions for the most part would add language to make it the administration’s responsibility to develop and maintain guidelines for advertising, sponsorships, naming rights and other revenue-generating activities.

One of the policies calls for establishment of a gift acceptance committee, to be appointed by the superintendent. The committee would review potential donations for their appropriateness, said Alyssa DeLuca, director of the capital campaign and executive director of the Mt. Lebanon Foundation for Education.

Harry Funk, freelance writer:


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