Tuesday, September 2, 2008
The Allegheny County Elections Board has eliminated two ballot measures dealing with the 10% drink tax enacted this year to subsidize public transit. Three county judges ruled that questions were not legal because only County Council can lower or raise taxes. The judges heard the case because the Elections Board' regular members had declared positions on the ballot measures and recused themselves. The proposed referendum by opponents of the drink tax, Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation (FACT), would has asked voters to reduce the tax from 10% to point-5 percent. Another referendum put forth by Democrats on Council would have asked voters if they wanted to eliminate the drink tax in favor of higher property taxes. Kevin Joyce, a board member of FACT, says the county code indicates that only Council can raise or lower property taxes but doesn't mention other levies like the drink tax. Joyce says their next step is to appeal to Common Pleas Court.