Mt. Lebanon school board not involved in 'newcomers' tax,' decision on turf, president says

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Two issues that have riled groups of Mt. Lebanon residents were brought to the attention of the school board during its meeting Monday.

For months, Mt. Lebanon commissioners have been hearing complaints about the installation of artificial turf on two athletic fields and the municipality’s appeal of property assessments for homes purchased between 2006 and 2013, resulting in higher assessed values and tax obligations.

Edward Chute of Valleyview Road, who said he opposes artificial turf because of health concerns, objected to the school board not getting involved with the municipality’s plans regarding the fields in Mt. Lebanon’s Main Park.

Elaine Cappucci, board president, said the district has agreed to help maintain the fields but had no part in the choice to install turf.

“That decision was the municipality’s to make,” she said.

She also noted that commissioners have left the decision-making about the ongoing high school renovation project solely to the school district

Mr. Chute, who said he bought his home in December, and Gregory Bank of Firwood Avenue, who also is affected by the so-called “newcomers tax,” questioned the board’s role in the assessment appeals.

Ms. Cappucci explained that the school district handles commercial appeals and the municipality makes decisions about residential.

“The municipality will continue in whatever way they’d like, but we are not participating,” she said about the residential appeals.

Also on Monday:

■ Ms. Cappucci commended superintendent Timothy Steinhauer for exemplary performance following his annual review by the school board.

He met the six goals established for 2013-14, including fiscal responsibility in operating the school district, promoting academic achievement and overseeing the high school renovation.

Mr. Steinhauer’s contract runs through the 2018-19 school year. For 2014-15, he will earn $175,000.

■ The board approved 2014-15 salary increases for three groups of employees, according to  what was negotiated in their contracts.

Clerical employees, aides and personal care assistants receive an additional 2.89 percent. Their contract runs through 2016-17.

Food service employees, contracted through 2015-16, get a 3.05 percent increase.

The teachers’ five-year contract expires at the end of the coming school year. Their increase is 4.15 percent.

Board member Scott Goldman voted against the increases. He has explained that, although the approvals amount to a formality, he opposes the terms of the contracts and votes accordingly.

Harry Funk, freelance writer:

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