Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas is over; time to pay the bills

As the residents of Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh shake off the remnants of the Christmas Holiday, many of them are asking themselves how they are going to pay the bills that arrive in January. With the current global financial crisis, record unemployment, and house crisis alot of folks have alot on thier plate.

Currently our elected officials are making some BIG decisions with our tax revenues. In the news today; both Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh are facing dilemnas of how they will be paying the bills in January.

THE DRINK TAX - only for the Port Authority OR fixing roads and bridges too?
First, Allegheny County vs. the tavern owners. This battle has landed the County and tavern owners in the Court of Common Pleas. Recently appointed Judge Judith Olson, drew the short straw and got stuck with this train wreck. The dispute surrounds wether or not the highly controversial drink tax can be used for any other purpose than Mass transit. The questions at hand is what defines mass transit? Can the County use these monies for mass transit outside the Port Authority? For road and bridge repair?

Mass Transit in Oakland without a downtown stop?
Speaking of mass transit, Counilman Bill Peduto is proposing the implementation of a commuter rail from hazlewood thru oakland extending to Lawrenceville. This is good stuff. But it is missing one major connection. DOWNTOWN? I would like to see this commuter line tie into the amtrak line that currently lands in the new "transportation center" which was probably not needed in the first place, and was the center of the Lamar Sign scandal.

Do we have to spend millions to pay the bills?

Also in City news, Councilman Patrick Dowd wants Council to have a voice on how to allocate the current surplus of $45.3 million. The money has been dedicated to reduce the City's debt. Apparently there are concerns of how much of this money will actually go against the debt. And what debts will be paid. The City has a responsibility to the retirees and current employees, therefore the monies should be dedicated to the pension fund. However this is common sense. Just like we all do at home. List the debts. Pay off the debts that cost us the most. Do we really need to pay outside consultants to do this for us? I don't think City Council has any authority here, although I appreciate thier sincere interest in the matter.

No comments: