The Allegheny County Council's decision to increases taxes $30 million to bail out the Port Authority (again) was characterized by its enablers as, "I wish there were another choice." No choice? There's always a choice: raise taxes or reduce spending to parallel the realities.
The choice here was to target a consumer group with perceived less political downside. Increasing poured alcoholic drinks by 10% and rental cars two bucks a day to further subsidize the Port Authority and its workers is (was) a choice. Not wanting to incur their disfavor, the decision was easy. Drinkers and out of towners were a safe bet. Let car rental companies and restaurateurs deal with angry and fed up customers.
I've hear from too many angry folks weary of politicians "not getting it." They don't understand that consumers, already struggling with energy, food, and high tax rates, have choices. The outcome is likely to be less drinks purchased and less cars rented. They go out less; they travel less. Or, as we have witnessed for years, they choose to purchase from outside the county.
The individual transaction increase may not seem like much, but there is a point when consumers (businesses and individuals) choose to resist. It's not just the "last" increase, but the sum of past increases. They choose to say "no more."
The more business and consumer friendly choice was not to ask others not using the service to pay, but demand the excess cost (which is far more than $30 million) be cut. Businesses do it all the time, as do consumers. So do you and I.
It's time the Port Authority is forced to make this choice. It's also time (well, maybe next time) the council forces that choice.