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Pittsburgh Drink Tax

“Chains of Politics – The Pittsburgh Drink tax”

Well, it must be a slow news day with another article from the PG on the Pittsburgh Drink Tax. Basically they just rewrote an old article and added a new headline. I expect a little more out of the award winning people at the PG … but then, I’ve always been told I expect to much in many situations.

Here’s the problem with the article – same people being interviewed, same arguments, same mention of lawsuits, same, same, same … Now what would have made that a really good article would be interviews with some world class financial types mixed with interviews of controllers from other counties that have had to deal with similar situations. which brings me to the fact that I really miss the good reporting from the old Pittsburgh Press … which is probably the reason I read more blogs now for my news.

Anyway – swimming away from griping about not-so-great reports we get from the PG to the actually issue. Pittsburgh is basically between a rock and a hard place. We need to infuse some money into the public transportation infrastructure …. but there are very few places to get it at this time (well, we could of use the money for the big Mole Hole Subway line under the river we are digging …. which nobody wanted …. but I’m sure Rendell made some promises he had to keep before leaving office). I truly feel for him (if you can’t notice the sarcasm here …. your blind).

Both sides have good arguments:

  • The restaurant industry is getting killed on costs all around due to gas prices, etc, etc. It can’t afford anymore – the customers don’t want to pay it. This isn’t just affecting the hole in the wall bars containing your local drunks – this is also affecting the high end restaurants that are getting national fame and attracting people to our city.
  • The county (without raising property taxes to a point where people can’t even afford to live in a tree house) has an issue of where to find the money. They are effectively consolidating with the city at the best speed they can to save money. If they go too fast, it will get done in a way that will cause us to have to redo everything in about 3 years and end up costing tax payers more than they can imagine.

The bottlenecks:

  • Egos – Both the County and Restaurant Associations have big ones. The only thing that they would do when brought to the table is yell, complain, and probably throw rotten eggs at each other. Basically status quo operation for many city and county orgs (private and government).
  • Creativity – both sides are lacking massively. If they had enough sense they would list on what both sides want to do, pick out the best of each one, and run with it. It would still p*** off allot of people on both sides, but would lay the building blocks for a review in 2 to 3 years to tweak the workings.
  • Understanding – if this ends in stalemate or gets decided by a ruffling of feathers – we could take the city back 10 years. Both sides at this point have to be understanding an take a few hits for the team. This is not a one sided issue – it affects everyone in the city. People will start leaving because of all of the bad news about Pittsburgh *again*.

This is another “Chains of Politics” issue because it is going to take an extreme amount of cooperation to get things straightened out. This is when all people involved need to progress past the age of 5 and work together. This may be the time when the people of The City Of Pittsburgh need to force both sides to work together.

Best idea I’ve heard yet:

  • Combine the city and county into Metro Pittsburgh …. eliminate all the redundancy, eliminate the confusion, eliminate the wasting of time. There was an article about 3 months back from an expert in NY on why we would do that (if I can find the link, I’ll post it in the future) and it seemed like it would be very effective.

So ….. maybe both sides need to stop getting stupid, stop b***** , and just get to the problem {{I know I’m dreaming here}} – but you have to have hope.

PS … something to think about (and I’m not pro-drink tax):

  • Property Tax Increase = ONLY county residents contribute, it’s up to us to pay the bill.
  • Drink Tax = county residents + transients + temporary workers pay this –  it’s not just up to the the country residents to foot this bill.
  • Is a compromise possibly? (5% drink tax with maybe a slight increase in property taxes).
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