Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Dem Pittsburgh Blues

The Mayor and the city council seem to have come to some sort of agreement on a city budget. Basically the council gets what they wanted (few new taxes but service cuts) and the Mayor gets a significant parking tax hike. This should have the desired effect of making more of the city's tax burden fall on the suburban commuters (of whom there is one in my family) rather than cranking property taxes on residents yet again. This seems to be a good thing on the whole -- and if it encourages people to ride the bus or carpool more often, it has added side-benefits.

Predictably, the local legislators and business leaders are up in arms about it. On the legislators side, the best quote in the article has to be this one:

State Rep, Nick Kotik, D-Robinson, said Allegheny County legislators from both parties "have never sat down as a delegation and had a frank discussion'' about Pittsburgh's dire fiscal situation.

"It's time for that,'' he said.

It's time for that? Really? The city has been drowning in red ink for six years, and now it's time for the representatives of the affected population to finally talk to each other? I'd have said it was time to talk to each other, oh, five years ago. But that's just me.

That part of the business community that doesn't pay any taxes to operate in the city (nonprofits, financial services, many others) seem to be curiously silent on the subject of new taxes. But then again, if the parking tax hike doesn't fly, the city's Act 47 "Recovery Plan Coordinator" might notice that the Business Privilege Tax here makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and probably ought to be revamped.