City Council sustains mayor's veto on parking tax

Tax cut will take place in January

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Pittsburgh City Council voted 8-0 today to uphold Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's veto of an ordinance that would have cancelled a parking tax cut, in light of the insistence by some members of the General Assembly that the reduction go forward.

Councilman Jim Motznik, who sponsored the initial bill, reluctantly motioned to sustain the veto. He said he found the situation "frustrating to me. ... The state's unwillingness to even open a dialogue with us, with council, with the mayor, on the issue, is very disheartening to me.

"We all realize that at the end of the day, if we end up on that crash course with the state Legislature, then city taxpayers lose."

Council's vote to sustain the veto followed a month-long debate over the city's 45 percent parking levy. It virtually ensures a cut to 40 percent Jan. 1.

State law demands that the city drop the levy to 40 percent next year, and then to 35 percent by 2010. Council members led by Mr. Motznik voted 8-1 to nix the cuts, since lot owners didn't pass this year's reduction from 50 percent on to consumers.

"There are better ways to spend this money, but we are held hostage by the state in this regard," said Mr. Motznik, adding that he hopes to open up a dialogue with legislators.

Mr. Motznik's bill would have dedicated parking revenue to city debt and pension obligations.

Mr. Ravenstahl has said he wants the Pittsburgh Parking Authority to pass on to consumers some of the savings it gains due to the tax cut, but has been unclear as to whether that will translate into a rate cut, or some days of free Downtown parking at authority garages. There are six such days coming during this year's holiday season.


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