Pothole Ridden Thinking

A PG editorial this morning said that "the sorry condition of Pittsburgh streets is testimony to the fact that the city is not out of the fiscal woods". True, Pittsburgh is not out of the fiscal woods-it won’t be until there is an execution of a plan to deal with legacy costs and bring per capita levels of spending down to more competitive and taxpayer friendly levels.

A lot of people might think that the condition of the roads is testimony that the City has been focused on other things, like economic development and conjuring up schemes to grab more taxpayer money, than taking care of the municipal basics of public safety and public works. But the PG feels that the City needs to turn to commuters and non-profits for more money in order to take care of basic road maintenance.

Never mind that the City (like all counties and municipalities) gets a share of the Liquid Fuels tax ($4.6 million in 2010) that is used for road maintenance and levies the Local Services Tax ($12.5 million in 2010) which replaced the old $10 Occupational Privilege Tax and has statutory language that mandates that one of the four possible uses for the LST is "road construction and/or maintenance". What else would they suggest? An increase in the wage tax under Act 47? For one, it cannot be done because of legal restrictions and two it would cause an increase in the wage tax for people living in the City, making their rate far higher than it would be on non-residents. Plenty of places have commuter taxes (New York, Philly, etc.) and that has not solved the financial difficulties.

Maybe a return to focusing on the basics would work.