Monday, January 05, 2009

How to Spend $12 Million (Without Really Trying)

Frankly, this story really disappoints me:

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato this afternoon said he will not fight a judge's order requiring him to use all excess revenue collected from the county's drink and car rental levies only on the Port Authority.

Instead, Mr. Onorato said he plans to give all the $12 million he collected in excess from both levies to the Port Authority for capital improvements in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. That will free up $12 million the county would have borrowed to fund the transit agency's capital needs, he said.
That's just sad.

I mean, you figure that even a CPA of Dan Onorato's caliber could figure out a way to reclassify County expenses as PAT expenses. It's really not that big a leap to imagine that there are certain budget items on the County ledger that could have overlap with the Port Authority of Allegheny County, with a bit of tweaking.

There are plenty of County employees that could be reclassified as bus drivers or mechanics. Make them drive the buses once around the lot every other day or give them a rag and have them wipe down an engine or two. Heck, there are so many consultants at DHS that they may be repairing buses for all we know.

Alternatively, Onorato could use Port Authority funds to find out how much bus exhaust do not contribute to the local air quality, instead of making the Health Department monitor the air quality directly. Oh, look: PAT buses didn't contribute 2.1 ppm of particulate matter in Clairton today, it only contributed .01 ppm...

Or perhaps, CYF case workers could be used as "underage mass transit chaperones," to, you know, prevent disturbances on the bus.

Onorato himself is somewhat in charge of PAT as County Executive, so his salary can be easily slipped in to the Port Authority's budget... and, of course, the County Executive needs staff to help him out on all these pressing PAT matters, so their salaries could be covered.

But he's not even making the Port Authority make a low interest loan to the County to cover expenses for 2009!

The milquetoast, underachiever that he is, Danny Boy's given up after only one bout with the Courts.

So disappointing.

1 comment:

Conservative Mountaineer said...

Or.... Onorato COULD have requested County Council REDUCE the 2009 rate further from 7% to x% so that the "take" would wash out by 12/31/2009 OR leave it unspent just in case there's a shortfall in 2009... but, Noooooo.. like any other politician, he "spends" the money because, in his mind, he HAS to... the old "use it or lose it" mentality of politicians and bureaucrats.

BTW, I agree with the Court decision... if the decision went any other way, that would open the possibility of funding other items and (no doubt) higher than needed drink taxes in the future. Give a politician the option of spending and the option of raising taxes to funds those expenses equals never-ending higher taxes. Guaranteed.