A Court Decision the Executive Likes

A Court Decision the Executive Likes

After a series of court rulings that have gone against Allegheny County government, the Supreme Court finally reached a decision the Chief Executive approves of. In the case of whether taxpayers should be allowed to vote on cutting the drink tax, the Court held that under state law only the governing body has authority to determine tax rates. That means voters will be denied the opportunity to express their wishes about the matter.

The decision is one the County will gladly go along with, unlike several court rulings on assessments to which the County has basically thumbed its nose. Indeed, the Executive was quoted as saying, "I am glad the Supreme Court resolved the issue in the manner it did." Contrast that with the response to the Supreme Court ruling in April that ordered the County to reassess properties because its base year scheme was unconstitutional. In that instance, the Executive had attorneys looking into whether the County could sue in Federal court to have the decision overturned and asked the Legislature to, in effect, have the Supreme Court ruling set aside by legislative action while the General Assembly came up with a new statewide plan for property assessments. What an absolutely catastrophic action that would be for constitutional government.

Thus far the County has pursued delaying tactics in abiding by the Court’s decision. Earlier lower court decisions have been totally ignored for four years at least. And now comes a ruling against the people’s right to have a say about taxes and the Executive is pleased about it. Go figure.

On the referendum issue, we have urged and continue to urge the Legislature to repeal the statutory language that places governing bodies’ power above that of the electorate in determining tax rates through referenda. There is no step more important in controlling runaway, excessive government spending than allowing taxpayers to have authority through referendum to approve rate hikes or order rollbacks of existing tax rates.