Monday, December 29, 2008

Eat Those Words

Once again the controversial drink tax is in court.

As I've mentioned in my previous rantings, Onorato and his team have repeatedly said that we should be proud to join the ranks of other cities with a dedicated tax to support public transit.

Clearly, when County Council regretfully passed this tax, they were under the impression that the drink tax was intended to support public transit (and its only incarnation in the county - Port Authority.) Similarly, when I complained about the unfairness of the drink tax, Erica Cohen personally responded to me on behalf of Onorato to say:
While the drink tax and rental car fee were not
the County Executive's preferred options, they were the only options
provided by state lawmakers as a dedicated funding source for mass
transit. With the approval of the 2008 County budget, we have joined
other metropolitan areas in creating a dedicated funding source for mass
transit that does not include property taxes.
Now, Dan wants to use it to repair roads and bridges. Unfortunately, I do believe that there is probably a loop-hole in there for him in the wording of the state law. I also believe that Dan the Tax Man was well aware that the drink tax would bring in excess monies and was hoping for this budget boon. Thankfully, Mr Onorato does not get to be the final judge in this case. Judge Judith F. Olson will determine it for us.

While, the County Council is lowering the drink tax this year, I can only hope someone on County Council has the brains to learn from their mistakes and detail explicitly in triplicate exactly how the money is to be spent and exactly how the money is to be distributed.


Anonymous said...
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Bram Reichbaum said...

I think there's room for interpretation. If "transit systems" means roads and bridges, couldn't it also mean sidewalks, elevators and escalators in public buildings, fuel for the county vehicle fleet, and economic development (i.e. "moving forward")? I think there's a chance the judge will interpret the language plainly and as it was expressly marketed to the people.