Institutional Amnesia

The surest sign of neurotic behavior is the constant and repetitive use of arguments that have been thoroughly debunked. Now comes City Council’s budget director telling Council that visitors, commuters and non-profit realestate are not paying enough to the City.

The director said "we’re like an amusement park that only charges the people that live there…we’re not charging the people that come and visit." Obviously the director forgets that non-City taxpayers funded two new stadiums and a convention centerandgaming revenue from around the state underwrote construction ofthe hockey arena. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, where the City’s gratitude for that support?

Guess what? All these structures are property tax exempt. And theCity receives virtually all the economic benefits these facilitiesspin off. Parking, restaurants, bars, hotel room nights, retail sales,etc.

Then there is the amusement taxand non-resident sports tax. The director suggested asking the state to allow the City to raise the amusement tax. But that tax was cut in half from 10 to 5 percent in 1995 asrequired by the Regional Asset Tax law. In exchange for huge amountsof support for City cultural, entertainment and education organizationsthe City was previously funding, the City lost half the amusement tax-a small price relative to the RAD benefits. Any gratitude for all thetax dollars pouring into Pittsburgh from the rest of the County? Not aword.

RAD was touted as the City’s financial savior; ditto the newstadiums and convention center. The lack of prudent spending never enters into the cloudedmental processes of elected officials or those who work for them.

Addicts have to admit they have problem if they ever hope to getwell. No such admission has been forthcoming. And so it goes.