Monday, November 16, 2009
Pittsburgh City Council President Doug Shields is calling on the mayor’s office and the two boards that have oversight control over the city’s budget to step forward with a legal opinion on the “Post Secondary Education Privilege Tax.” The 1% tax on tuition payments made to Pittsburgh based colleges and universities is part of the mayor’s 2010 budget. The so-called “Fair Share Tax” will be used to make $15 million annual payments to the faltering Pittsburgh pension fund. As soon as the tax, or fee, was proposed elected officials and other leaders in the region began taking sides on the legality of the proposal. While some feel the city has the right to impose the tax most feel it runs contrary to sate law. Shields says he wants to hear from a lawyer with the Ravenstahl administration why it is legal and he would like to hear opinions from the ICA and ACT 47 boards. Ravenstahl has said publicly that the tax meets state code but has yet to send a representative to council. Shields says it is council’s job to vote yes or no on a budget and he can not send it up for a vote until he knows it will win any legal challenges. Council will begin debating the budget later this month and must have a spending plan in place by December 31st.