no municipal tax increase in 2018

2017 municipal improvements included the renovated ice center, a new fire truck (on order) and plans, currently underway, to upgrade the public works facility. Slated for 2018 are $2.1 million for road reconstruction, $210,000 in HVAC improvements at the library and $92,000 for completion of the municipal building facade renovation project./Photo by John Schisler

 Commissioners are slated to vote to adopt the recommended 2018 operating budget at their December 12 meeting. The 2018 Manager’s Recommended Budget calls for no increases in municipal property tax, earned income tax, real estate tax, or sanitary and stormwater fees.

The proposed budget is posted online, and paper copies are available at the library and the municipal building customer service center.

The commission’s budget review sessions, which were held with the administrative staff in November, can be viewed at in the “meeting videos” section.

The general fund operating budget, which covers the cost of day-to-day municipal operations and services, is $32.2 million. The capital improvement budget, money for one-time purchases or big-ticket items such as infrastructure improvements, is $8.1 million.  The total budget for all funds is $53.5 million.

The General Fund operating budget calls for a 3.1 percent increase from the 2017 budget. Personnel Services, which comprises 56.4 percent of the General Fund Budget, calls for a 4.2 percent increase primarily due to pension and health care cost increases.

Contractual services are increasing by a nominal 1 percent from the 2017 budget.  Funding from other sources for our street maintenance contracts offset increases in special appropriations, utilities and professional services. Commodities are increasing by 2.9 percent due to the purchase of a forestry chipper truck.

In addition to $2.1 million for road reconstruction, capital improvements include upgrades to the library building HVAC ($210,880), the completion of the municipal building façade project ($92,000), and the first year of a three-year replacement of carpets in the public safety center ($71,200).

A mandated $3.85 million worth of sanitary sewer work, required by consent order, will be paid for from the Sewage Fund. An additional $344,180 for stormwater management work is covered by Mt. Lebanon’s Storm Water Fund.

Mt. Lebanon residents pay a total of 33.37 mills in real estate tax./Photo by Diane DeBerardino

REVENUES EXPECTED TO RISE Revenues from all sources are expected to increase slightly, by about 1.1 percent over last year’s totals. Although municipal tax rates are not rising, tax revenue is expected to increase slightly. Mt. Lebanon expects to receive an estimated 1.9 percent more earned income tax revenue. After a flat 2016 collection year, 2017 has seen a steady growth of 3 percent through the first 10 months of the year.

Although Allegheny County has not reassessed properties in the municipality since 2013, meaning revenue from property assessments remains flat, county sales tax revenue is expected to increase by 3.8 percent. Receipts from 2016 and 2017 have both exceeded budget estimates.

Recreation revenue is expected to increase 19 percent due to the return of the ice rink to normal operations after the 2017 renovations.

The use of fund balance from the General Fund is expected to be $228,550.  This use is specifically from assignments made by the Commission for future pension and health care increases.

Mt. Lebanon residents pay a total of 33.37 mills in real estate tax. A mill is $1 of tax money for every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. The lion’s share, 23.93 mills, goes to the school district. The remainder is split almost evenly between Allegheny County (4.73 mills) and the municipality (4.71 mills).

In 2017, the municipality committed to a significant reinvestment in several facilities to ensure they will continue to meet the needs of residents well into the future. Funded by a 2017 bond issue was the  $2 million repair project at the ice rink, which was completed on budget and approximately one month ahead of schedule. The facility reopened in September 2017 and will remain an asset to the community for many years to come. Also funded by the bond issue was the  renovation of the public works complex and  indoor firing range. This project will be put out for bid early in 2018. Cost of the project is estimated at about $6.9 million.

This year,  Mt. Lebanon received $925,800 through PennDOT’s Green Light Go grant program, for traffic signal upgrades at three intersections: Bower Hill Road and Kelso Road/Carleton Drive, Castle Shannon Boulevard and Anawanda Avenue, and Cedar Boulevard and Morgan Drive/Greenhurst Drive. The municipality received additional funding for improvements to 30 other signalized intersections in Mt. Lebanon. The project required the municipality to spend $231,450 to complete the project.

Future budgeting considerations will be driven by the upcoming solid waste collection contract. In 2018, Mt. Lebanon will take part in a joint bid for solid waste collection services with other SHACOG communities. The Commission discussed a number of options related to the future structure of solid waste collection during the 2017 calendar year, and that conversation will continue into 2018. The next five-year contract begins in 2019.