GOP Council Members Question Drink/Rental Tax

Allegheny County, Pa. Chief Executive Dan Onorato accused four Republican County Council members of indirectly favoring higher property taxes to fund mass transit. The 10-percent drink tax and $2-a-day car rental taxes, which took effect Jan. 1, were enacted to raise the county's $30 million operating subsidy of the Port Authority, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The four council members are proposing legislation to reopen the 2008 budget and repeal the drink and car rental taxes by the end of March, contending that the county could use slot machine revenues to subsidize the Port Authority. They were spurred by the county's receipt of $19.9 million in slots income Dec. 31.

Under the state's slots gambling law, the money was earmarked for debt reduction at Pittsburgh International Airport. But Onorato said the first installments would go to the county to reimburse it for the $43.5 million it contributed to the new terminal construction in the early 1990s.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Onorato held his annual State of the County address to council this week to discuss the issues.

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