County executive Dan Onorato poked the bear. In his 2008 budget, Onorato wants to raise money for the Port Authority by taxing the people who can least afford it - the alcoholics. A ten percent drink tax coupled with $2 a day car rental tax would raise the $30 million needed for the maligned transit system.
The four Republican county councilpersons will vote against the levies. Democrats, who make up two-thirds of the fifteen-person body, gave tepid support to the budget, according to Ann Besler at the Post-Gazette. Write your councilperson.
Onorato also pissed off transit union president Pat McMahon when he suggested that union employees should contribute as much to their health care as management. Union members pay one percent of wages while nonunion employees pay two percent, a figure scheduled to increase to three percent July 1.
Like many American employers, the Port Authority's budget is subsumed with health care for employees and retirees. How about this outrageous nugget:
Mr. Bland said the far larger, Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority pays about $8 million a year for retiree health care premiums, compared with about $30 million at the Port Authority, although SEPTA has three times as many retirees.
At SEPTA, the normal retirement age is 62, although employees can retire at 55 with 30 years of service. In November 2005, the authority raised its retirement age to 55 with 25 years of service after well more than 1,000 employees -- some in their late 40s -- had already walked out the door with full pensions and health care coverage. The normal retirement age for county employees is 62.At least Onorato is tying the employment roll to the county's population. His 2008 budget would eliminate 200 employees through attrition and retirement.