The Mayor of Pittsburgh has surveyed his insolvent, dilapidated, dying city and concluded that the place needs to be spruced up a bit . . . so long as city residents skate on most of the bill. A mixture of increased commuter tax, reprieve from the state-mandated parking tax reduction, and payroll tax on tax-exempt organizations would be just the tonic, the mayor has asserted.
Th "plan" received the standard reception in Harrisburg, whence authority to impose such measures must issue; State Senator Jane Orie labeled the mayor "delusional." State Representative Don Walko declared the commuter tax proposal "dead on arrival." The most sympathetic opinion was issued by State Senator Wayne Fontana, who observed that the maintenance of current parking tax rates "is probably the easier one."
State officials had no comment on the mayor's proposals to increase city property or wage taxes or to place some of the financial burden on city employees -- because there were no such proposals.
The mayor's inspiration was a "recovery plan" issued -- "floated" was the term used by the Post-Gazette, an apt choice because things that float tend to be relatively substanceless, such as feathers, ashes and prospects of a commuter tax-financed city bailout -- by the Act 47 resuscitation team. The Act 47 team's inspiration was . . . well, it's difficult to imagine, but the first guess is one of those Married With Children episodes in which Al (or Peg) pursues a lame-brained get-rich-quick scheme.
Everyone associated with the City of Pittsburgh's finances has been daft for decades, so the chatter on that front is in character, but it is unexpectedly difficult to gauge the Comet's take on these developments. The Comet's reference to outsiders "oppressing" the city and enjoying a "free lunch" at city expense, and cheers for "commuter tax now," must be sarcastic . . . right?
Listen Up! May 25
2 hours ago