By The Power Of Greyskull…
So, in an effort to keep taxing the people of Allegheny County with an unfair and unwanted drink tax, the county council is going to rewrite the rules in order to basically mislead people into believing that we only have one option to avoid an increase in property taxes (which have not increased in over 5 years) – a drink tax that robs Peter to pay Paul in the sense that most people who use the Port Authority Bus System live in or just outside of downtown Pittsburgh while the entire county gets charged the tax.
Implementing a tax on one thing for something that is totally unrelated is unfair, not to mention this attempt to go against the group who is gathering signatures to have a referendum placed on the ballot to remove the drink tax, a tax that not only has already accumulated more money this year then it should for an entire year, but is going to fund the Allegheny County International Airport (a totally unrelated system from the busses – which were already bailed out by the state). Not to mention that the busses undercharging users for their services is the reason that the Port Authority is a failing system.
It is not a drinker’s responsibility to pay for other people to cheaply ride the bus. Damn democrats (who have run Pittsburgh into the ground for 75 years) and their socialism.
Article posted on the Pittsburgh Post Gazette website.
Council moves to protect drink tax
Considers giving itself authority on ballot questions
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
By Karamagi Rujumba, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In a move aimed at protecting the new 10 percent drink tax, Allegheny County Council will hold a special meeting tonight to consider giving itself authority to put referendum questions on the ballot.
The move is an attempt to counter a group of restaurateurs and bar owners who are challenging the drink tax in court and with a drive to collect some 23,006 signatures to put the levy to a referendum vote in November.
A majority on council hopes to frame its own question that would couple a property tax increase with any reduction or elimination of the drink tax. Their hope is that given such a choice, voters would preserve the drink tax.
County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, who implemented the drink tax and a car rental tax in January to fund the county’s $30 million subsidy of the Port Authority, has said that repeal or reduction of the drink tax would force him to raise property taxes by as much as 25 percent.
Mr. Onorato and Council President Rich Fitzgerald, D-Squirrel Hill, contend that if voters are given a chance to vote down the drink and car rental levies, they ought to also approve another revenue source to fund mass transit.
"I have said all along that we should give voters a chance to vote on whether they want a drink tax or an increase in their property taxes," Mr. Fitzgerald said.
He said council members, who started their summer break last week, need to "clearly establish" that they have the authority to put questions to the voters by legislation. The special meeting is at 5 p.m.
The county charter currently allows citizens to place referendum questions on the ballot by gathering petition signatures.
But there is disagreement about whether the charter and the county’s administrative code permit council to draft its own ballot questions.
Mr. Fitzgerald, sponsor of a bill to amend the code, said "this is no big deal. We are just clearing up the process of how we can put a referendum question on the ballot," he said. "We already have the power, but we are just going the extra mile in case we get challenged in court at some point."
Councilman Chuck McCullough, R-Upper St. Clair, whose proposal to reduce the county’s drink and $2-a-day tax on car rentals through a referendum was shelved by council, now says council lacks the power to put questions on the ballot.
"We have a prescriptive [county code]. There is nothing in the code or the home rule charter that gives council the power to put a referendum question on the ballot," he said. "If you don’t have the power in the code, then you don’t have the power to do it."
Cris Hoel, attorney for the group Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation, said restaurateurs already have exceeded the number of signatures — which are due to the county Board of Elections by Aug. 5 — needed to place a question before voters on whether to reduce the drink tax from 10 percent to 0.5 percent.
Tags Pittsburgh Politics