Billboard tax passes Pittsburgh City Council; lawsuit could follow
By Bob Bauder
Published: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 11:08 a.m.
An attorney representing Pittsburgh's largest outdoor advertising company said the company would “absolutely go to court” over a controversial excise tax.
Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the tax, which places a 10 percent levy on revenue generated by billboards.
“There is no way this action is legal or appropriate,” said Downtown attorney Jonathan Kamin, who represents Lamar Advertising, based in Baton Rouge, La.
The tax should generate $2 million to $4 million annually for the cash-strapped city, according to Council President Darlene Harris. She said the money would go to the city's general fund, but council hopes to use it to buy police cars.
“We are looking everywhere and anywhere to try to enhance revenues, and this is only one avenue,” Harris said.
Kamin said the tax is a restriction on speech and violates the First Amendment.
Lamar lashed out last month by erecting billboards critical of Harris and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, the bill's sponsors.
Kamin said Rudiak violated the state Ethics Act by voting on the bill, based on comments she made during a 2011 council meeting. Rudiak, of Carrick, said that studies indicated her property value would be 30 percent higher without a billboard across the street from her home.
Rudiak called Kamin's accusation “a stretch.”
“It's such an overreach,” she said. “All we're doing is looking to hold the line on residents' property taxes.”
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- RiverQuest short of money, looks for a partner
- Pirates trade for Mets first baseman Davis
- Chocolate prices expected to soar as ingredients grow more expensive
- Orpik: Penguins must keep their cool
- ‘We Are FR’ fund going strong
- Penguins’ Bylsma wants Cup version of Letang
- Alvarez struggles as Pirates fall short against Brewers
- Police say Latrobe woman bought gun for boyfriend, who shot neighbor
- Holtgraver holds on to win Lernerville opener
- Squeezed by competition, Chobani to expand offerings
- Engineer made most of opportunities in U.S.