Local government has a number of core responsibilities. Among these are basic services such as refuse pickup, snow plowing, maintaining roads and sidewalks and making sure our sewers work. These are the “unsexy” things we don’t notice unless they’re not there—things that come to us from the public works department.
Mt. Lebanon, which has held the line on taxes since 2013, is proposing a 0.25-mill tax increase for 2017, from 4.51 mills to 4.76, to fund an approximately $8 million bond issue that will pay for enhancements to Mt. Lebanon’s public works facility—improvements that will upgrade the department’s delivery of services as well as provide adequate storage space that will prolong the useful life of expensive equipment. The bond issue also will pay to replace a defrost system at the ice rink that ceased functioning more than two years ago, and will replace a 15-year-old fire department pumper truck.
A mill is $1 of tax money for every $1,000 of a home’s assessed value. For the owner of a $200,000 home, this 0.25-mill increase would mean a tax increase of $50 per year. Part of the increase—0.05 mills—is due to the anticipated loss of five months’ revenue during the rink repairs. This amount could be offset by a one-time allocation of $116,980 from the municipality’s unassigned fund balance.
The upgrades to the public works facility were recommended in a December 2014 public works master plan completed by RSSC Architecture of Wexford. The study’s recommendations include:
- Replacing the salt storage dome with a new, 6,500-ton capacity building and constructing a shed for storage of outdoor materials such as topsoil, mulch and sand, which would free up space for equipment and vehicle storage, and allow for the future development of a new maintenance garage and vehicle storage building.
- Building a new maintenance garage and vehicle storage area. The existing space has limitations, and not all vehicles or equipment can be serviced.
- Renovating the main building on the site. With the relocation of the maintenance garage, the building could be used for vehicle and equipment storage on the lower level and for offices, conference rooms, training and break rooms, traffic control and road signage departments on the upper level.
- Constructing new storage buildings at the edge of the facility to allow for storing all remaining vehicles and equipment and for any future expansion of the public works vehicle fleet and equipment. Sheltering vehicles and equipment from the weather will increase their useful lives.
View the entire master plan online at www.mtlebanon.org/DocumentCenter/View/10540.
Municipal Manager Keith McGill says the proposed increase is partially attributable to a flat real estate tax revenue, since Allegheny County has not reassessed properties in the municipality since 2013, but several new development projects, including Summit Pointe on Country Club Drive, new condominiums at 400 Washington Road, apartments on Pennsylvania Boulevard and a new office building at 1701 Cochran Road, are expected to yield more tax revenue in the near future.
“Consistent investment in our community sends a message to developers,” says McGill. “We take care of our assets.”
The proposed increase would make Mt. Lebanon millage equal to the 4.76-mill county tax rate. Mt. Lebanon School District’s tax rate is 23.93 mills.
The Mt. Lebanon Commission will have a public hearing followed by a vote on whether to approve the budget at its December meeting, 8 p.m., Tuesday, December 13.