Lawsuit Filed Against Allegheny County
December 18, 2008, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Announcements | Tags: , , ,

Today, FACT and County Councilman Chuck McCullough filed a lawsuit to stop Executive Dan Onorato from using surplus drink and car rental tax revenues for road and bridge repairs.

Earlier this month, Mr. Onorato and county council passed the 2009 budget which noted that extra revenue from the drink and car rental tax would be used help pay for bridge and road improvements EVEN THOUGH state law requires drink tax revenue to be used on mass transit only.

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Drink Tax Monies Being Used Outside of Port Authority
December 10, 2008, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Announcements | Tags: ,

When Executive Onorato realized that the Drink Tax and Rental Car Tax would collect more money than expected for Port Authority (for 2008, the County needed $27.5 million, budgeted $32 million, and will collect at a minimum $44 million), he decided that the County could use the interest on Drink Tax collections, along with any monies collected over the amount needed for the Port Authority subsidy, on non-Port Authority expenses. The County budget for 2009 reflected this wish.

Mr. Onorato and council members promised when they passed the 10% Drink Tax, the revenue raised would be exclusively used for the Port Authority and that they would search for other sources of revenue to subsidize it. Well, they have done neither and their reckless political actions have crippled the Pittsburgh region’s hospitality industry in an already tough economy, so our fight continues.

Look for a lawsuit in the near future…



Drink Tax Reduced to 7% For 2009 Budget
December 5, 2008, 7:02 pm
Filed under: Announcements | Tags: , ,

It isn’t everything anybody wanted, but it’s better than nothing.  Facing criticism from Allegheny County citizens, County Council passed a budget this week which reduced the Drink Tax from 10% to 7%, representing a year’s worth of hard work by advocates working to reduce or eliminate this harmful tax.  Here are some stories from the press concerning this news:

Allegheny County Cuts Drink Tax to 7%, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Drink Tax Cut Passes County Council, KDKA-TV

Cheers, Drinks to Cost 3 Percent Less, WTAE-TV

We applaud the county for this action; however this is only the first step.  We will continue to pursue the repeal of this irresponsible and unfair tax.  And we will maintain a vigilant oversight on how these monies are used.

Whiskey Rebellion Continues

And so The Whiskey Rebellion II continues…



2009 COUNTY BUDGET TAKES A RIDE ON BACKS OF LOCAL HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

Over-collection of Drink Tax funds must not be used to prop up county budget


Pittsburgh, PA – Tonight, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato delivered his 2009 proposed county budget to council.  This budget proposal includes a modest Drink Tax reduction while again failing to deal with the county’s structural deficit.

Allegheny County businessperson and Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation (FACT) board member Kevin Joyce said, “Let’s be honest, the Drink Tax was proposed and instituted not solely for the benefit of mass transit, but as a backhanded way to deal with the county’s structural deficit.  The budget looks good on paper – no new property taxes and a reduction in the drink tax – the problem is that this county is not solvent for the long term and our leaders know it.  The Drink Tax is and always has been simply a way to mask these larger issues regarding the fundamentals of the budget.  As you might expect, this plan very simply plays politics for short term gain, neglecting the long term viability of our region.

Kevin Joyce continued, “There was much talk this evening of how to spend the “over-collection” of the Drink Tax.  First, Act 44 dictates that all monies collected as a result of the Drink Tax should be used for mass transit.  Second, we take issue with the premise that this is the county’s money to spend as it sees fit.  This money is being taken out of the pockets of local businesses and the customers who support them, supposedly to subsidize the Port Authority, and our government leaders are treating it as if it’s a rainy day fund to address all that ails this county.  Our industry has been hit particularly hard by the economic crisis, businesses are closing in droves and people are losing jobs, yet our county government continues to bludgeon the hospitality industry with this tax while drawing up an over-collection Christmas list at the expense of countless local families and businesses.  Everyone is being forced to tighten their belts during this economic crisis, except on Grant Street.  The $29.5 million that has been collected through 8 months of 2008, which is already $3.25 million more than the $26.25 million purportedly needed for the 2008 transit match, has been left unspent and collecting interest while our leaders plan their Christmas list.  This budget guarantees it’s going to be a nice Christmas on Grant Street, but I’m not so sure about Main Street.”