Nov 21, 2014
Contact: Molly Nichols
Amendment to County Drink Tax Allocation Proposed
At the County Council Budget and Finance committee meeting on Thurs Nov 20, Councilwoman Green Hawkins and Councilwoman Heidelbaugh put forward an amendment to the proposed county operating budget for 2015. Co-sponsored by Councilwoman Danko, the amendment allocated 3 million dollars from the county’s transit support fund (revenue from the car rental and drink tax) to Port Authority’s operating budget. This is in addition to the 15% county match of the state subsidy for operating provided to the Port Authority.
Ms. Green Hawkins stated that various communities have been indicating their needs for transit service, and while the funds cannot be specifically directed, this additional money being provided each year would allow Port Authority to implement and sustain additional service.
Ms. Heidelbaugh stated that the “most vulnerable” members of our community cannot get to work or health care. She acknowledged that the 3 million will not solve the problem altogether, but if the county has this money and does not spend it, it is a disservice to county residents.
Ms. Danko acknowledged that the growth of the drink tax fund from 32 million in 2009 to 42 million in 2013 indicates that the money could be allocated for Port Authority’s operating costs each year.
The amendment failed with a vote of 3 to 6. Voting in favor were: Green Hawkins, Heidelbaugh, and Daly Danko. Those opposed were: Rea, Means, Futules, Macey, Palmiere, and Finnerty.
Pittsburghers for Public Transit commends the efforts of Council members Ms. Green Hawkins, Ms. Heidelbaugh, and Ms. Daly Danko to designate these funds for adding much needed transit service and expect the rest of the Council to work to find a solution to the inadequate service throughout the county.