Thursday, June 15, 2017

In the same boat with Penn Hills, Shaler, and McKeesport

"Penn Hills, Mt. Lebanon, Shaler and McKeesport each lost more than 150 residents since 2015, and more than 450 since 2010, according to Census data."
Scroll down the chart to see our data. Pittsburgh region's population decline continues, Census shows | TribLIVE 

Mount Lebanon Township33,13732,74132,475-0.82%-2.00%

I wonder if the PIO will be calling the Trib like she did when the PG put us in the same section of Pittsburgh South as McKeesport.



60 comments:

Anonymous said...

Red flags should be going up.
Supposedly, our community is one of the most coveted communities to live in in the Pittsburgh area because of our schools, our recreational opportunities, walkability and downtown.
Somehow over the past ten years we're losing population at a comparable rate to Penn Hills, McKeesport and Shaler. It's time to investigate why we're not gaining population or at least staying level.
Is it school and municipal taxes and fees? Congestion? Older housing stock? Aging population? Hate?

I'd love to read opinions, especially from our municipal and school district leaders, what is behind the population decline and what we as a community can do to reverse the trend. That'd really be a community article for our "official" community magazine.
Too bad Lebocitizens scooped it.

Anonymous said...

With the money being thrown at killing deer one might think the commissioners decided they were chasing out residents. 🙀

Jason Margolis said...

It may be as simple as: better options for the price. Or, it could be as complicated as everything 2:23pm depicts. Or both.

Anonymous said...

Speaking only for my family, we decided to move out of Mt. Lebanon during one of the recent deer kills. I just couldn't take the safety risks and the culture of violence any longer. We stayed, however, so that we would not disrupt our kids' education. But, only a few years to go and we are outta here.

I would also like to here others' opinions about the population decline.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

And that's why they should open a conversation, Jason.

One reason might be that seniors are dying off over moving to smaller, senior housing available elsewhere, but you'd think young families would offset the loss of widows or widowers.

My thinking, good paying jobs are more plentiful up in Cranberry and South Strabane and the newer houses have bigger lots and smaller taxes (for now). Plus the school district's are now competitive with Lebo.

Anonymous said...

Would still like to read the various leaders opinions on the decline in population and as to whether they'll be proactive or reactive dealing with it.
Since no one has as of yet died from a deer collision or a stray bullet it's pretty assured $100,000 annual investments in deer culling won't have much impact on the population numbers. Perhaps that money would be better spent elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

For the amount of money that is paid for a house in ML, a much larger house and land can purchased in USC, and the taxes will be lower. More land for less money. This is a no brainer.

Anonymous said...

Well, Cranberry's school system still sucks. But, South Fayette is rated above MLSD. South Fayette has a lot to offer, community wise. I don't think they kill animals or people there.

Anonymous said...

Could this be a matter of fewer people in most homes and little to no new housing stock (vs. pretty much every other growing area)? Shrinking population is, over time, a problem but it's difficult to measure in short intervals.

Anonymous said...

This seems like a regional issue, not a Mt. Lebanon one. All of the communities without new new housing developments seem to have lost population. My understanding of the regional demographics is that we have a significant elderly population and that the population decline is resulting from such demographics. Are there a bunch of vacant houses/condos/apts in MTL?

With respect to USC and South Fayette, MTL certainly competes with these communities for new families, but there are also features of MTL that other communities can never replicate. MTL is close to town, has many public transportation options, has defined business districts, architecturally significant houses, etc.

Regarding the above post saying "more land for less money" with respect to USC, why not just more to Peters at that point? More land for less money - no brainer, right? Also, the different of taxes between USC and MTL is small. Any gains are eviscerated due to the longer commute for those working in town.

Anonymous said...

Yes definitely 8:37.
So what does this mean for the municipality?
First off, lower Earned Income as one or more in the household goes into retirement for one example. Fewer patrons for local businesses for another.
So, with no new revenue from new housing stock the school district and commission can either keep raising expenditure which require higher taxes and fees or control spending.

E. T. Gillen said...

The Mt. Lebanon commissioners granted final approval last night to the Uptown Place land development plan that will feature five townhomes on Washington Road across the street from the Mellon Middle School auditorium.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that the same houses keep being sold in MTL? At least in my neighborhood, there are 5 or 6 houses that have been on the market, each at least twice in the past 3 years. I specifically attribute this to the Newcomers Tax. A family moves in only to be sued, lose, resulting in instantly increased mortgage payments in addition to the back taxes. It is my assumption that these families elect simply to move again because either they cannot afford to stay, or such antics were not what they were hoping for in a community. I know from experience and my family and I have teetered on the fence regarding moving for a few years. Besides the municipality, the other beneficiary of this unconstitutional program is the local realtors- one moreso than others, who shall remain nameless. Think about it- this company can sell and resell the same housing stock year after year, reaping commission after commission without disclosing the likelihood that a new home buyer will soon be forced to pay $400 - $1,200 or more than they budgeted at closing. It's a scam of epic proportion. Despite virtually no media coverage, I attribute the decline in population to growing word of mouth of the Newcomers Tax.

Anonymous said...

The Newcomers Tax will actually drive DOWN tax revenue and home values over time. Talk about dumb.

Anonymous said...

"What’s Driving Population Declines in More States?"

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2017/02/03/whats-driving-population-declines-in-more-states

"Taxes and Moving
High state and local tax burdens may not force people to pick up and move. Most often it’s for jobs, higher pay or a desire to retire elsewhere. But taxes contribute to the cost of living and factor into people’s thinking about moving, some research indicates." (i.e. - new people and families may look for areas outside Lebo)

9:13 this is beyond a regional issue, but regardless of being regional or state fewer people means fewer revenue dollars for businesses and government.

Now, of course, the commission and school board can continue to operate as they've always done figuring tomorrow will bring more tax revenue or they can begin to operate as a mature business looking for efficiencies and NEW venues to attract people.

Anonymous said...

9:13, you write MTL competes with USC and South Fayetteville.

Unless you're getting different numbers than those offered in the linked article in the original post, MTL isn't competing well.

Over the last 10 years South Fayetteville had 8% population growth, USC had 3% growth and MTL had -2% growth.

So while we may compete with theses other communities, that doesn't mean we're competing well.

Anonymous said...

11:15: you seem to refute your own hypothesis. How can realtors reap the benefit of houses turning over because of the newcomers tax while simultaneously causing a population drop? If the tax appeals are causing a population drop, the houses would remain vacant and unsold, i.e, no realtor commissions. Property tax appeals saw and continues to see media coverage. There is almost always a property tax reform bill floating around in the PA house.

Virtually every single community in Allegheny county appeals property assessments based on sales prices. Each community has different criteria and flavors. MTL (municipality) appeals where most areas it's the school district, but the result is typically the same. I believe MTL's 2010 era appeal program was obnoxious, with the current one less so. Property taxes in Allegheny Country are very high. Buying a home and not considering the current and possible future property taxes is not very prudent.

Anonymous said...

11:15, I agree that realtors profit from property turning over frequently (so does the municipality through the transfer tax) buyers are nieve if they believe that paying well over a property's assessed value won't result in a change in the assessed value.
By the way there are many inequities besides the Newcomers Tax, in how properties are valued.
Two similar houses could be considered comparables by the county, but one may be in its original 50s condition and the other completely updated but since the county doesn't enter they don't know which is which and value them the same.

Anonymous said...

South Fayette (no ville) and USC are both building new housing, you are comparing apples/oranges. Most young families are starting to have children later and they don't have as many kids as families in the '70's and early '80's

E. T. Gillen said...

While we are talking about the Newcomers Tax and deer being killed, the 2016 Assessment Appeal Program Results include a little bit of both. The home hit with the largest percentage of change (131%) just happens to be one of the private properties who "donated" their property to Mt. Lebanon for two years and asked for fawns to be killed because that meat is the most tender.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

2:55, you may pooh pooh a comparison between USC, South Fayette (no vile) and MTL all you wish, but the pertinent subject is MTL over the last 10 years lost population... for whatever reasons. If this trend continues revenue from EIT, property taxes and fees will fall eventually as well.
Of course, the leaders can continue to spend and increase taxes, but eventually that path will lead to even more buyers passing over MTL.
Right now, USC and SF can count on a growing tax base, MTL can't.

Anonymous said...

This community (Lebo) looks like crap in the press. People read the newspapers and see what is going on here. Why would anyone want to move to this place?

Anonymous said...

Read the papers. Mount Lebanon has haters. Towards Jews. (swastikas) Towards Blacks. (Mohammed Ali...President Obama speech) Towards the President. (rally) Towards newcomers. Towards deer.

Mount Lebanon has School Board Presidents in the papers. (Posti...Cappucci...Lebowitz...Birks...Rodella)




E. T. Gillen said...

We're terrible neighbors, 8:32 PM. Ask Scott Township, Brookline, and Castle Shannon. That makes the newspapers too.
We also have a bad reputation for children with special needs. And then there are the news stories about inappropriate touching, sexual harassment, online sexual predators involving coaches or teachers. Oh, and out of state visitors walking dogs.

Do a search on the PG website and you will find all of this.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

Plenty of haters for the ones who don't live in Virginia Manor !

Anonymous said...

I can say that there are a lot of things that appealed to us about moving to Mt. Lebanon - the walkability, the accessibility of public transportation, the beautiful architecture in the neighborhood homes, and the schools. So far we have been super happy with our move, super happy with the school system, happy with the town, and welcomed by everyone we have met (and as a biracial family, have seen no evidence of prejudice or hate towards us). The newcomer tax sucked, and is probably a big barrier to a lot of people moving into the community (which unfortunately might be its purpose?) as is the school tax. It may just be a matter of perspective, however, and depend on where you move from, but we have found it to be absolutely wonderful living here, minus the price of admission and annual dues!

Anonymous said...

""Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

And that haughty spirit is displayed quite well in the "official" community magazine.

Anonymous said...

Are we seriously worried about losing 450 people over 5 year? In one of the oldest regions in the country? Move along. And guess what, USC, Peters and S. Fayette ALL cull. In S. Fayette and USC they cull in parks. In S. Fayette, the Rec Dept issues hunting licenses for the parks. Wake up people.

Anonymous said...

There is a nastiness in Lebo. I met a family out of state that could only stand living in Lebo for one year. The guidance counselor had two families transfer from lebo the same year. The new town was 6 hrs away. The kids knew each other but not well. The other family couldn't believe the deer cull or the neighbor who scolded her for standing on her lawn. The family viewed Lebo as hostile and stressful. I hope it is improving. It really could benefit from a look up and just be kind campaign.

Jason Margolis said...

9:03pm, I am glad your experiences in MTL have been mostly positive.

I am particularly glad to hear you have been welcomed as a biracial family, and you seem to be a fortunate outlier in this arena.

MTL has a long history of racism and exclusion, typified by Virginia Manor residents trying to keep out Muhammad Ali in the early 1970s.

Today, I hear of many stories of subtle and overt racism in MTL. This happens across all non-white ethnicities, though it is particularly tough here for Black families and their children.

- Dr. Jason Margolis

Anonymous said...

2:55, you can languish in your belief that hey everything's hunky dory because we're just as good as USC and South Fayette, but you'll soon learn as Illinois is that you cannot deny real economics.

"Adding to the state's financial pain is a shrinking tax base. For the last three consecutive years, Illinois has lost residents. Its population is now at its lowest in a decade. Tepid wage growth on top of fewer residents puts a strain on the state's ability to grow its tax revenue."

Illinois may be the first state to ever declare bankruptcy. It could just as easily happen to Mt. Lebanon.

But there is a bright side, deer won't be a problem.

E. T. Gillen said...

sigh. Here we go again, 11:15 PM. I wish you would take into consideration how small Mt. Lebanon is and how we are built out. Compare density numbers.

How big are those parks, 11:15 PM? We have 25 acres of a park in Scott Township called Twin Hills, and it wasn't actively used to kill deer. The golf course is 99 acres. Allegheny County's South Park has 2,013 acres of park. Yeah, they kill deer in that park too. The entire municipality of Mt. Lebanon is just under 4,000 acres.

Keep defending the deer killing program, 11:15 PM. It isn't working. People ARE waking up.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

11:15 typifies the hostility and nastiness in Mount Lebanon.

E. T. Gillen said...

You're right, 9:41 AM. 11:15 PM is one of the nastiest individuals here in Mt. Lebanon.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

Elaine and 11:15,

Let's not forget that the neighboring communities that kill deer in parks at least have the sense to close the parks to people while the guns are firing. Not so here in Mt. Lebanon. They kill when the parks are open and full of kids. Duh.

Jason Margolis said...

Wow, that's quite a statement, Elaine. 11:15pm would have quite a bit of competition among the oligarchy of about 75 desperately trying to keep their power and position.

Anonymous said...

11:15, let's look at this from a different angle. 450 people lost over 5 years would be equivalent to the loss of student enrollment at our largest elementary school.

Now of course the 5 year decline wasn't school aged children, but a portion of the decline would've been for sure.

How many years do you think it'll take before we need to take a look at closing a school and laying off teachers if the population decline continues?

MTL Student Enrollment as of September, 2016
Foster Elementary 239
Hoover Elementary 251
Howe Elementary. 349
Jefferson Elementary 312
Lincoln Elementary 420
Markham Elementary 320
Washington Elementary 452
Jefferson Middle School 667
Mellon Middle School 660
Mt. Lebanon High School 1,780

Anonymous said...

11:15, since you seem to be an expert on municipal culls going on in our area, please tell us how much each spends on culling deer.
As long as we're comparing apples to apples!

Anonymous said...

Since we've diverted somewhat off topic, but still in the interest of maximizing the use of tax money the following is interesting.

"Deer management long-standing in some South Hills communities | The Almanac"

"In Bethel Park, archers with Whitetail Management Associates of Greater Pittsburgh conduct the annual hunt, which also takes place during the Game Interesting!

"Deer management long-standing in some South Hills communities | The Almanac"

"In Bethel Park, archers with Whitetail Management Associates of Greater Pittsburgh conduct the annual hunt, which also takes place during the Game Commission season.
The number of deer taken has averaged about 60 per year, [did MTL's archery cull net 60 deer?] Timothy Moury, council president, said in response to a resident’s question at the August meeting. The municipality spends no money on the hunt, which is coordinated through the police department."

http://www.thealmanac.net/article/20150929/NEWS/150929943

Notice the last sentence in the paragraph above, "the municipality spends no money on the hunt."

For some reason here in MTL we need to spend $9,000 on a "volunteer" archery cull. Why?Commission season.
The number of deer taken has averaged about 60 per year, Timothy Moury, council president, said in response to a resident’s question at the August meeting. The municipality spends no money on the hunt, which is coordinated through the police department."

http://www.thealmanac.net/article/20150929/NEWS/150929943

Notice the last sentence in the paragraph above, "the municipality spends no money on the hunt."

For some reason here in MTL we need to spend $9,000 on a "volunteer" archery cull. Why?

Anonymous said...

From the PG in 2015.

"Allegheny County manages deer in its nine parks with the help of a nonprofit archers' group that discreetly removes does during archery deer season. With self-imposed rules that exceed game-law requirements and a perfect safety record since its founding in 1996, Whitetail Management Associates of Greater Pittsburgh quietly removes about 600 deer from the county's parks per year. The service is provided at no cost to taxpayers, and most of the venison is donated to local food banks."

No cost to taxpayers, yet in Lebo we're so awash in revenue we shell out $800/ deer culled.

E. T. Gillen said...

Let's get back to talking about why our population is declining. Our taxes are going up. There is almost no available land to build. South Fayette continues to be top ranking school district. We have a bad reputation. As it was pointed out, we have a thriving caste system here. Hey, I just realized that we may have a school board director by that name, although pronounced differently. Yes, our school board presidents tend to be newsmakers in the negative sense.

Our lots are small. We have almost 6,000 people per square mile. We have to pay a rain tax. Perhaps pay a garbage tax. A parking tax. That is how we can afford to pay Tony DeNicola to kill our deer at $815.78/deer by "sharpshooting" or $250/deer using volunteer archers.

We have a superintendent who will be getting a 5.5% salary increase on July 1, 2017 per his amended contract. Additionally, the District will be contributing to his tax deferred plan in the amount of 3.5% of his base salary - an increase from 3% in 2016. He lied under oath during the zoning hearing for the high school project. Will he get another $20,000 for doing a "satisfactory" job? He changed Cappucci's son's job posting without a trace. Our special needs program AND our gifted program are not what they once were. That is squarely Timmy's fault. But we have one hell of a courtyard right outside of his office now.

We have a PTA where members leave meetings in tears.

I am not surprised that our population is declining.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

One thing we do know how to do here Elaine, is spend money. Oh and create fees to get more, like in the proposed overnight parking fee.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed that the 12 brilliant people (plus Elaine and Dr. Margolis) are SOOOOO smart to have deduced that Lebo is doomed, yet they continue to stay and re-arrange the furniture in the Titanic. If it sucks so bad, leave. According to you, we're all fools to stay. Why do you?

E. T. Gillen said...

Twelve people. Wow. That is pretty specific. And I guess there are the twelve brilliant people plus two more who aren't brilliant. Gee, I think that adds up to fourteen people now. add you, 8:51 PM, I have fifteen readers. Glad to see the readership is growing, even though the population is decreasing.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

Tell me, 8:51pm, how much do you pay in combined municipal, school, and EIT taxes? Would you be willing to pay twice as much to get the same level of service that you get now? Would you love Mt. Lebanon twice as much if that were the case?

Publis
Oh, one more thing; to what extreme would YOU be willing to go to get rid of the people who are bugging you by exercising their right of free speech on this blog? - you know, like the deer?

Anonymous said...

The first commenter in this chain asked a very simple and cordial question: "I'd love to read opinions, especially from our municipal and school district leaders, what is behind the population decline and what we as a community can do to reverse the trend. That'd really be a community article for our "official" community magazine."

And as is so usual, 8:51 finally makes their usual case. They see nothing to be concerned about... this is my little duchy and if you don't like it, get the hell out.

It's people like them that make Mt. Lebanon the community it is today.

Since you brought up the Titanic analogy 8:51, remember the ship was warned about the ice bergs, but decided to run full throttle anyway. Damn the ice bergs, we're unsinkable, right?

Jason Margolis said...

8:51pm, I understand that it is easier to lash out at the 12 or 14 (actually, closer to 1,000) people in MTL who have serious concerns about the directions it is heading - instead of changing and evolving.

However, in so doing, you are the one that is "dooming Lebo." It is people like you, continuing to play the same fiddle rather than acknowledging the icebergs, who will have everyone under water soon.

- Dr. J

Anonymous said...

BTW, Elaine, the "Clutch the Pearls" video is hilarious and spot on.

S.

Anonymous said...

8:51, I guess I'm one of the twelve people that you've branded as stupid because I can't understand why anyone would defend the status quo that does things like spend up to $800 to kill deer when other communities get the same results for no costs.
Are deer deader if you spend a lot of money to kill them?

Couldn't those thousands of cull dollars be better spent on maintaining roads and sidewalks, enhancing parks and trails that would attract new residents?

Please explain your position 8:51 so that we idiots can follow your incredible wisdom!

Anonymous said...

Elaine, you wrote at 4:00 pm that there is almost no available land here to develope. Which is somewhat true, but there are available properties that are for sale and waiting for development such as the one at Castle Shannon and MTL Blvds.

There's property all along Castle Shannon Blvd for sale, but doesn't seem to be moving.

Rather than throwing money at deer culls, why don't we imagine what we could do to make these sites attractive to attract new residents and expand the tax base rather than sit by idly in the belief that everything's A-OK like 8:51.

Anonymous said...

That is if 8:51 will be so kind as to allow us idiots to try and imagine things we can do to keep Mt. Lebanon competive with communities like USC and South Fayette.

Anonymous said...

Would that be Karma, Elaine @ June 16, 2017 @ 4:17 pm ?

E. T. Gillen said...

Perhaps, if you believe in Karma.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain why we "smart" twelve contributors to this blog are attacked by people like 8:51 for questioning the wisdom of doing things like buying $2 million worth of land that generates no revenue or practical use.
Why we give a mediocre Superintendent $20,000/year bonuses for doing his job?
Or spend $800+/deer when other communities and the county spend zip for similar results?
Budget nearly $1,000,000 for a community magazine/PIO when USC creates one that covers the school district AND the community for less than 1/4 of that amount?

With a shrinking population the burden to keep it all running is only going to increase for those that remain and turn off prospective newcomers and businesses.

E. T. Gillen said...

They attack, 8:32 AM, because they have no other recourse. Someone on the inside of the school district once told me that the Administration portrays me as a "crackpot," but I'm to continue doing what I am doing because I am dead on.
Elaine

Richard Gideon said...

Until our bureaucrats and elected officials are replaced with people who take their jobs more seriously than they take themselves things will remain as they are. Many people have made suggestions to both the municipality and the school district that would have resulted in improvements to municipal services and reduced taxes, but their arguments fell on deaf ears; or at least they were never acknowledged. Hubris plays a large role in this situation; if it wasn't "invented here," it's of no value. Unfortunately, "hubris" is the hallmark of little governments, and Mt. Lebanon is by no means unique in this regard.

By the way, along with reciting the "Pledge of Allegiance" I think the first 10 or so bars of Erik Satie's "Sonatine bureaucratique" should be played at the beginning of commission or school directors meetings in order to set the appropriate tone.

Anonymous said...

"Rare bird species settles in Upper St. Clair" The Almanac

Even the bird-brained are bypassing Mt Lebanon to settle. 😆

Anonymous said...

Can you blame the birds? Lebo is dangerous!

Anonymous said...

8:51, no civil discourse on the population decline and whether we should be doing something to reverse it?
No thoughts from any of our local leaders at either the school board or commission on the subject?
Guess they expect voters to cast their ballots simply on name recognition and not on policy.

Anonymous said...

6.17 4pm What are Steinhauer's goals with respect to special ed and gifted? Did the board give him any?