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Onorato set to lower drink tax

| Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008, 12:00 p.m.

Top Allegheny County officials want the 10-percent drink tax cut to 7 percent for next year, county Chief Executive Dan Onorato and several Democrat councilmen announced this afternoon.

The proposal comes because the county may collect $10 million more than needed to cover its part of the Port Authority budget, those officials said. The drink tax and the car rental tax enacted along with it are on pace to collect more than $42 million, Onorato said.

Republicans on County Council had tried to pass a resolution last night asking for a reduction because of the surplus, though they have suggested more aggressive cuts. Kevin Joyce, who owns The Carlton, Downtown, and has spoken for several restaurateurs fighting the tax, rejected the cut as too small and an attempt to assuage a public outcry.

"The 7-percent tax is better, but it's still high enough to push people (to bars and restaurants) over the border as they have been doing all year," he said. "What has affected (Onorato's) position is the political pressure. This today was a political decision, not a policy decision."

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