Solicitor: New county taxes would need collection plan

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If they are going to adopt a budget with two new taxes, Allegheny County Council members were told they must also devise a plan to implement those levies.

In the 2008 budget county Chief Executive Dan Onorato submitted to council last month and asked it to approve, he proposed to fund the county's $30 million subsidy of the Port Authority with a 10 percent tax on poured drinks and a $2-a-day tax on car rentals.

"Council does not need to approve enabling legislation to implement the taxes," Solicitor Jack Cambest told members of the Budget and Finance Committee yesterday. The county has the legal authority to impose both taxes, but the method of how the taxes would be collected, "that is something council and the county solicitor would have to work out," he said.

The question of enabling legislation arose last month when Councilman Bill Robinson, chairman of the committee, proposed such legislation to give the county the ability to implement the taxes down the road.

The enabling resolutions for both the drink and car rental taxes, Mr. Robinson, D-Hill District, said, would be procedural necessities for county government.

"One concern is that we are diligent. We have to anticipate any legal challenges that may come up because of what we do here," Mr. Robinson said yesterday.

"There is evidently another alternative to how we can deal with these taxes. I just wanted to be sure of the process," he said.

The Budget and Finance Committee will meet again at 4 p.m. today and tomorrow.

Karamagi Rujumba can be reached at krujumba@ or 412-263-1719


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