Friday, January 2, 2009

Judge Olson is My Hero

The drink tax funds are only to be used for Port Authority.

(The busman already posted this news, but I still needed to express my gratitude.)

Just to make this more than a 2-line post, I'll add some justification on supporting this decision besides just wanting Mr Onorato to lose and my smart card fanaticism.

If Mr Onorato can decide to use this money on anything "related to transit", what's to stop him from habitually collecting more than he needs and just adding another meaningless tax? We will never have "enough" money for repairing roads and bridges in this county. And aren't sidewalks related to transit? And water drainage? And snow plowing? Doesn't the County Executive need his own H2 to drive around the county and inspect transit issues? Would it really surprise you if next year similar items showed up under ways to use the excessive drink tax? Would it surprise you in 5 years if they raised the drink tax to pay for more and more road repair while limiting the amount of money to Port Authority.

The Port Authority last month [October] asked Allegheny County for $9.9 million to leverage more state and federal funds for capital improvements, but County Executive Dan Onorato said the agency will get $6.3 million "and not one penny more" next year.

No, Dan, not "one penny more", how about a few million more? Or do you want to drop the drink tax to 5% now? Not that I'm gloating.

Oh, wait, I'll wipe that shit-eating grin off my face while the county wastes more money that won't be given to Port Authority while appealing this ruling.


Jerry said...


Property tax reform has to happen. Onorato knows this, but he knows it's political suicide. Let's hope events continue to conspire to convince him that he could do the citizens of Pittsburgh a big favor if he just fell on his sword and did it. If he has to be backed into a corner by everyone -- the citizens, the courts, the state legislature -- in order to reach this conclusion, then so be it.

His career in politics might be over after that, but he would have actually changed a small part of the world for the better, which is more than a lot of people can say.


The Huddler supports the drink tax and transit. Pittsburgh needs more mass transit. In fact we need a mass transit connection from downtown to oakland even if it comes via the hazlewood railroad!

It will be very intersting to see what comes from the appeals. Why not use the extra drink tax monies to pay off debt? expand the rail to oakland and the airport corridors?

And finally the Huddler gives a big thumbs up to the "SMART CARD".

EdHeath said...

So are you saying the 7.5% drink tax is also going to generate more revenue than needed?

I agree, though, that given the Judge's ruling Onorato might as well give PAT the additional money it requested for the new fare boxes. The excess money collected looks like it will be a one-time thing, and the upgrade in fare boxes looks like it will happen only very occasionally.

illyrias said...

My commentary (for next year's excess items) was regarding if the judge had ruled differently or if the county wins its appeal.

I expect that if the Steelers win the Superbowl that the 7% tax will still bring in excess revenue. And I think in general you can count on bar revenues to increase year over year. The PLCB has clearly been increasing its profits (
but I won't start talking about them..

I'm also suggesting that Dan will do his best to make sure there isn't "one penny" of excess drink tax even if that means collecting too little going forward.