Lamar fights proposed Pittsburgh ad tax with billboards

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Lamar Advertising is using its billboards across the city to criticize Council President Darlene Harris and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak for co-sponsoring a bill that would impose a 10 percent tax on billboard advertisements.

"Worst Economy in 50 Years. Natalia Rudiak says: Let's raise taxes," says one of the billboards, on Route 51 in Overbrook.

The ad includes a photograph of a smiling Ms. Rudiak.

The billboards started going up Wednesday, and there's no end date for the campaign, Lamar attorney Jonathan Kamin said.

"I think we just wanted to raise public awareness about the tax that the city of Pittsburgh is looking to impose on businesses that choose to advertise," Mr. Kamin said.

He called the tax illegal, ill-advised and a way to hurt businesses. In the end, he said, the tax will be paid not by Lamar but by companies choosing to advertise on Lamar billboards.

Mr. Kamin declined to say how many billboards have gone up so far or how many are planned. However, he said the billboards will be placed along major roads in various parts of the city. He said there are multiple designs and they will be installed on regular and electronic billboards.

Ms. Rudiak said she first noticed the billboards while driving to work.

"I did a double-take, like a cartoon," she said. "My first reaction was just to laugh out loud. It's so ridiculous and over the top."

Mrs. Harris and Ms. Rudiak introduced the bill in September, saying it's a fair way to raise revenue for a cash-strapped city. No vote on the legislation has been scheduled.

"If they're trying to intimidate me, they're barking up the wrong tree," Ms. Rudiak said. "I'm no spring chicken." homepage - neigh_city - breaking

Joe Smydo: or 412-263-1548.


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