Luke Ravenstahl says the state's $52 Emergency Services Tax is unfair.Edit
- Ravenstahl says he thinks the $52-a-year Emergency Services Tax should be assessed based on someone's income. The flat fee should be swapped for one based on a percentage of a worker's income.
- Ravenstahl says he doesn't think that someone making minimum wage should pay the same flat tax as someone like him, who earns more than $96,000 a year.
- But, for now, Ravenstahl's idea is just that, an idea.
Because the city is operating under a state oversight board, a commuter tax -- which would make people who work in the city pay a percentage of their income -- is illegal.
The other remedy would be for the state Legislature to repeal the $52 tax -- something that Ravenstahl and experts acknowledge isn't likely to happen anytime soon.
That's probably impossible as long as the city remains under state financial oversight.
If Ravenstahl wants to change the tax on those who live outside the city but work in it, he would have to tax city residents who work here as well -- a politically unpalatable prospect for a mayor who faces an election next year.
"I don't see this happening," said Eric Montarti, a policy analyst with the Allegheny Institute, a conservative think tank in Castle Shannon. "There's no appetite for this at the state level."
Ravenstahl said he's not actively pushing the idea with state lawmakers.
Many of the mayor's comments yesterday focused on the torrent of national media attention he garnered after becoming the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city -- at age 26 -- upon the Sept. 1 death of Mayor Bob O'Connor.
Stories about him have landed on the front pages of dozens of U.S. publications such as The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and this month's Whirl and Pittsburgh magazines. Much of the coverage about Ravenstahl focused on the novelty of his youth.
"If I can use that as my vehicle to (promote) Pittsburgh, that's what I'd like to do," Ravenstahl said.
Even though Ravenstahl has been in office a little more than two months, he said he has modeled his administration solely on O'Connor's example, declining to try to arrange meetings with former mayors Sophie Masloff and Tom Murphy.