Tuesday, May 24, 2011

P-G: Mt. Lebanon Schools approve no-tax-increase budget

The Mt. Lebanon school board approved a district budget for 2011-12 on Monday night that includes no millage increase.

The $78.3 million budget was passed by a vote of 6-0. School directors Dan Remely, Elaine Cappucci and Larry Lebowitz were absent from the meeting, according to a news release from the district.

Board members and administrators had said in previous meetings this year that, after passing a 10.5 percent property tax increase for the 2010-11 budget last year, they didn't want to raise taxes this year.

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Blogger Bill Matthews said...

From the District website:

"... the Mt. Lebanon School Board approved the 2011-12 budget set at $78,347,833, down $1,014,607 or 1.3% from the 2010-11 budget of $79,362,440..."

What is absent from the website is that the 11-12 expenditures are up $592,979 over the estimated current year (10-11) expenditures.

While this is less than a 1% increase in total expenditures and Dr. Steinhauer deserves credit for doing his part to control costs -- a budget to budget comparison is not worth the bandwidth used to share such nonsense with the Community.

Also missing from the proclamation is the previously estimated surplus of more than $600,000 in this year's budget.

Also missing, are updated current year estimates and 5-year forecast. We have not seen updated forecasts since January (01-04-11).

What happens next budget year when debt service goes up a few hundred thousand dollars, following the one-time savings benefitting this budget?

In this new age of Transparency, the District only shares what it wants, when it wants or when it must -- lest there be some public discourse.

I am going to digress for a minute ...

Recently I attended the Capital Budgeting project review team's open forum. I was the only resident attending to share some thoughts on the Capital Budget. After I made my offering, Mr. Kubit wanted to engage in some dialogue -- but the staff was not to have it. We were told this meeting was for the Community (all one of us) to offer its (my) thoughts to the District. There would be no discussion.

Come on guys & gals -- join us in the 21st century -- public discussion is in vogue.

Back to the 11-12 budget ...

One of the areas I felt we historically sand bagged in the budget process was the growth in the Community's assessed valuation.

This year's budget on the website (03-09-11) showed no increase in the valuation, when the valuation actually went up almost $3MM, generating another +/- $75K in revenue. Are we back to our old tricks?

It turns out for some reason the District was showing this year's updated valuation in both the 11-12 and 10-11 budget summary. How that may have affected the balance of the numbers is unknown.

Further analysis of the budget will have to wait until the budget book is published and maybe even until the annual report (which is month's away) is available.

By then a zero millage increase budget will be old news and we will be playing another game.

May 25, 2011 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Matthews, Here is the recording of the capital projects review team meeting you mentioned.
Listen about 2/3 of the way into it for the dialogue. David Huston

May 25, 2011 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neither candidate came forward at the capital projects review team meeting, David, but here is what SB candidates Kubit & Goldman titilated us with in their 4-color campaign postal mailing regarding revenue enhancing opportunities under the heading "We are Committed to :".."We will spearhead the effort to obtain corporate and other private sponsorship of the newly renovated athletic and arts facilities.".

Incumbent Kubit also claimed in this same mailing that "Accomplishments under (his) tenure as Board President" included "+ Managed the progression of the high-school renovation project.", which in itself should raise serious questions about the likely hood of the earlier stated *committment* ever happening.

Several members of the public have pressed the SB since mid-2009 to pursue what have proven to be empty promises of local sports organizations to provide such financial support, only to have such public pleas dismissed (not "dissmissed" per the District billboard) by the SB. I note with interest that the Kubit family is listed under the "Family Sponsorships" of the Mt. Lebanon Football Association (MLFA), so perhaps there may be some 15-watt light at the end of the funding tunnel....although I believe some MLFA members may very well have had something to do with the April 2009 "Questionnaire" sent to SB candidates with an intimidating message or warning but also promising "blood ,sweat and $ millions in private funding" that never happened. And then there was the Master Design Team Meeting (MDT) meeting minute reference to a Dan Remely statement that $8 million might be provided by sports organizations, only to have him deny it was a real committment later in public meetings.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to beieve anything that emerges from the District, its representatives, hired hands or cheerleaders.

Bill Lewis

May 26, 2011 10:48 AM  

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