Allegheny County Solicitor Mike Wojcik issued a legal opinion yesterday declaring that the referendum proposed by the group Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation (FACT) should not be placed on the November ballot.
FACT had gathered over 44,000 signatures on a petition for their question which asks if voters are in favor of slashing the the drink tax from 10 percent to 0.5 percent.
Allegheny County Council also issued their own referendum question to be placed on the ballot which reads, "Shall the county enact an ordinance to increase real estate taxes in order to repeal the alcoholic drink tax?"
Wojcik says FACT's referendum is illegal because it violates the Home Rule Charter and does not suggest an alternative source of revenue in place of the drink tax. He also ruled that the question proposed by council is legal. His opinion will be forwarded to the elections panel--which consists of Common Pleas judges Jill Rangos, Christine Ward, and Dwayne Woodruff--who will review both FACT's and county council's question.
FACT member and owner of the Carlton restaurant Kevin Joyce says he is not at all surprised by the solicitor's opinion. Joyce also expects a long legal battle between the two sides with the ballot question case potentially going all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Either side has a chance to appeal any election panel decision within 7 days.