Thursday, December 11, 2003

Local Stuff

Fester beats me to this story from this morning's paper about attempts by the Pennsylvania GOP to prevent Pittsburgh from becoming the eighth and largest city in the state to declare itself "distressed" as part of an attempt to raise revenue.

As with many cities, Pittsburgh has seen significant suburban flight in the past few years, with the bedroom communities in Allegheny county filing up with daytime commuters. These municipalities collect income and property taxes, but none of it flows to the city. Instead the city has to make do with taxing its own residents, some of the businesses, and imposing a $10/year commuter tax on anyone who works in the city -- an amount that hasn't changed in some forty years. Many of the details are summarized in this column by Brian O'Neill. As he points out, fundamentally the state controls how local officials can raise money, and this attempt by the GOP to block the distressed status is primarily an effort to keep the commuter tax at $10.

In the meantime, my state senator (Jane Orie, R-McCandless -- I live in the suburbs) is leading a separate but related fight to prevent Pittsburgh from seeking any new sources of revenue until it can balance its budget. That seems to be putting the cart before the horse, but what do I know?