Monday, December 21, 2009
Pittsburgh City Councilman Jim Motznik has been leading the charge to pass a 1% tax on college tuition and he says he is ready to take that effort down to the wire. Council meets today at 1:30 today in its final Standing Committees meeting of the year. That would be the last chance to give preliminary approval to the bill. Motznik says if he does not see a deal with the universities “in writing” he will move to vote for the bill. He has 4 other votes in his corner. The measure has thrice been put on a one-week hold in an effort to give the council and mayor Ravenstahl a chance to negotiate a deal with the universities. Originally the heads of the schools said they would not talk if the tax was still being considered but the mayor reports there has been progress on a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement since all sides meet in the council chambers a week ago. Motznik says he will not accept a verbal agreement or a request from the mayor for more time. If the bill passes a preliminary vote today it will come up for a final vote next week. After that the bill dies and there is little chance of a new version being introduced in the New Year. Two of the five supporters on the council are leaving. Motznik is leaving to become a district magistrate and Tonya Payne was voted out of office. Motznik says he regrets that he may have to vote for the bill but he says the schools and other non-profits in the city should have come forward with more funding and the alternative of raising taxes on city residents is even worse.