Tuesday, April 20, 2010

KDKA Covers Mt. Lebanon School Taxes and High School Project

Mt. Lebanon's school taxes and high school project, always hot topics in town, are now attracting the attention of Pittsburgh-area television media. In a report aired earlier tonight, KDKA's Ralph Iannotti takes a look at both topics. His report touches on the petition movement, the effect of higher taxes on real estate sales, and the school district's new budget, which includes a planned property tax increase of 10.7 percent.

Video: Mt. Lebo School District To Raise Taxes (KDKA)

Updated 2010-04-21 00:01 to note that proposed tax increase is 10.7 percent, not 10.8.

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Blogger Dave Franklin said...

Great PR for the folks trying to sell a home in Lebo.

I've also read the latest rant over at Real Lebo regarding fear mongering and misinformation. Well, the facts are these . . . our taxes just went up 11% and we have not borrowed the remainder of the money required to build the $113 million school, we haven't fixed the pension mess, we haven't invested in new programs, we haven't addressed the soon to expire teacher's contract and our homes have not yet been reassessed. When you add all of those items together, and factor in the ordinary increases in the cost of doing business, is it really hard to believe that when it's all said and done our taxes may increase by another 30-35%?

I don't know anyone that has argued that taxes will increase by 50% *solely* because of the school project. The argument has always been that with all of the known increases coming down the pike, adding the school project to the tab can potentially put the total increase over the next few years in the 40-50% range.

Vocal advocates against the project, including James Fraasch, have simply suggested that with so many fixed/unmanageable costs that will drive up our tax bills, the school project is the one cost that we can attempt to reign in in order to keep those inevitable increases down.

April 21, 2010 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The petition signature count just hit 3500! As the person who was targeted in the Real Lebo rant, all I can say is, "Thank you Real Lebo, for helping us support our cause."
Elaine Gillen

April 21, 2010 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Dave, the latest rant you refer to is a form of cyber bullying targeted against citizens who are exercising their right to petition and appeal to the school board. The bullying behavior is an embarrassment to this community and their false claims will not be substantiated. Such accusations should be backed up with facts, but facts are not provided by the individuals who are making wild accusations. The “real issue” is that this first round of tax increases will cost me approximately $58/month and, as you stated, that does not touch the other fiscal burdens we will face in the near future. That amount is certainly more than what it costs to run my refrigerator in the basement, an analogy which has been frequently used by our school board. What impact will the second round of debt to cover the currently proposed high school renovation have? I haven’t received a raise to cover this additional tax burden and I doubt that many others have either. So, what will be the impact of this tax increase on the spending patterns of our residents and the support of our educational mission? To local consumers, it may mean seeking lower cost goods and services, or eliminating them all together. To our students, it will mean less financial support is available for other things such as programs since the resources will be allocated to the facility. This is not “fear mongering”, but a basic principle of economics based on the constraints of finite resources. With the other obligations you mentioned, the cost of the high school renovation is one of the few variables that can be controlled. Now back to where this post began, Mr. Kubit consistently asks for “respectful dialogue” in our community. Perhaps the Real Lebo/VOICE folks who support his position on the high school project should adhere to Mr. Kubit’s suggestion.
--Charlotte Stephenson

April 22, 2010 12:04 AM  
Blogger Dave Franklin said...

Can someone from VOICE, Real Lebo or any other group that has all of the truth and the facts on their side please give me a best estimate as to the increase in my property taxes when the school is complete, the pension is fixed and the new teacher contract is signed? Many thanks.

April 22, 2010 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Bob Reich, Jr. said...

I've come to the conclusion that we all simply worry too much.

Charlotte and Dave, just put the extra dollar amount thrust upon you on your credit cards! From the top down it's the American way! Sure at some point it will all come crashing down like a house of cards, but that's for someone else to worry about. Not you.

Plus, as a local businessman told me the other day, we need some "new blood" in this town anyways. This tax hike will be the final straw to push the older folks out and get those new young families we so desperately need here into town. Nevermind that it was on the older folks backs that the new "Public Safety Building" (not paid for), the renovation of the old Public Safety building, (not paid for), and the renovation of the middle school and elementary schools (not paid for) were financed.


April 22, 2010 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Bill Lewis said...

Right on, Dave & Bob,

And they have no clue as to what their *dream* of forcing out old foggies like me earlier than normal and replacing us with young families with kids will do to their budgets. Hey, they might even reduce the number of Lebo households without kids in the school system from the current 78%to say 70%....a reduction of 1,100 of us old foggie families.

However, if those replacement families add an additional 1,100 kids in the Lebo system...that under normal circumstsnces would not be in the system... at the projected average per student cost of almost $20,000/year in 4 years, the added costs...over and above what the current forecast estimates indicate... would amount to about $22 million/year, or something approaching 10 mills over and above the projected millage. And these replacement families would not be adding any substantial real estate taxes to offset the added education costs; and, perhaps their combined EIT's might add only some $550,000/year if each families taxable income averaged $100,000/year.

They are totally ignorant of any unintended consequences of what it is they wish for.

April 22, 2010 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Bill Lewis said...

Ah heck, lets give the doubters a break and assign only incremental costing to the extra 1,100 students; and, rather than a full cost of $20,000/student, lets use only $10,000/student....with a revised $11 million/year in added costs requiring only a 5 mill increase rather than 10 mills.

OK, where does that leave us ? Well

1) 5 mills is an increase of $500/year per $100,000 in assessed valuation today; and,
2) unless the 1,100 students were residing in perfectly dispersed neighborhoods and in precise age groupings, there would be a requirement to expand or enlarge one or more of our neighborhood schools...because the District says we are currently at 80% enrollment capacity at most of our elementary and middle schools. Capital and resulting debt service costs are not included in the above costs or millage increases. When schools reach 85%-90% levels of capacity utilization they are considered to be operating at full capacity; and,
3) these 1,100 young families will very likely contribute more than one child to the system, therefore this is not a temporary situation; and,
4) the increase in the particular demographics of this population will without question require considerably more municipal capital infrastructure and operating costs...particularly in recreation, public safety, public works...than what is required for us old foggies...so municipal millage will likely increase more than normal; and,
5) it may be a small windfall for local retail & dining establishments, but there is no merchantile or business priviledge tax in or allowed for Lebo, and it wouldn't really affect RE taxes much cause income is not a basis for commercial RE assessments.

I could go on, but why bother.

April 23, 2010 11:17 AM  

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