Of course, it's also the thing the city has the least control over.
State overseers give us a 300 page book detailing all the things we can and can not do. City Council has until June 30 to approve it. If council doesn't approve it, they need the approval of the state overseers to change it.
But the main problem (as I've ranted previously) is that many of these guidelines involve changes to state law, and the state lawmakers have repeatedly spoken against any new taxes:
State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, said there will "need to be some adjustments to the Act 47 plan," but that legislative approval for such changes "will be a difficult challenge."
"I don't think it's rhetoric, I think it's a proposal legislators should be vetting," said Sen. Sean Logan, D-Plum. "We need to take another look at the city's finances." Logan said the city must demonstrate it has shed as much fat from its budget as possible before it can make a compelling case for additional tax money.
"If he thinks taxes are the first option, he's delusional, in this economy," said state Sen. Jane Orie, R-McCandless. "If you think other legislators across the state are going to agree to raise the city of Pittsburgh's occupational tax to $145, you're out of touch."
And what happened last time?
So, if just like last time, the state refuses to give the city the ability to raise taxes on parking, commuters, and non-profits, who does that leave paying the taxes?
"The suburbs don't want to carry the burden for what's happened in the past in the city of Pittsburgh," said Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline.
That sentiment pushed state lawmakers in 2004 to strip the first five-year recovery plan of provisions that would have taxed city nonprofits and pegged the EMS -- then known as the occupation tax -- at $145, said Councilman Bill Peduto, the council finance committee chairman.
Such dramatic tax increases failed then, and they're likely to fail this time, he said. City Council has scheduled the first of two public meetings about the recovery plan for 1:30 p.m. today. A vote on it could happen by the end of June.
City residents. Welcome to Taxburgh. The question we need to ask Harrisburg: Are the commuters really that much more hard up than the residents of the city? And are they really only getting $52 in benefit from working in the city? I understand the sentiment to punish the people who made the mistakes to get the city into this mess, but a lot of those people now live in the suburbs. And a lot of city residents (including myself) only moved to Pittsburgh in the last few years. So give us a break.
And where's the mayor? On vacation. I'm glad I'm not an elected councilor right now. That's because unless a miracle happens in Harrisburg (or we can sell off the parking garages), the plan calls for default tax increases in the city over the next 5 years. And you can bet after 5 years of taxes, we'll have a whole new set of councilors.