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Tommy the Turtle Sez ...

... when the city's supposed saviors give you lemons, make lemonade!

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Dear Tommy,

 

I'm a 9-year-old Mt. Lebanon resident who runs a lemonade stand near a City of Pittsburgh swimming pool. I gross $50,000 a year -- 80 percent profit -- and pay the city $100 in mercantile taxes and my $10 occupational privilege tax. Now they're talking about raising taxes. Fuckheads! Which of the city recovery plans should I be rooting for?

 

-- Suburban Kid and Industrious Miser



Well, SKIM, after you wash your mouth out with soap, we'll take a look.

 

Hmm. Tough one. There are three teams that are supposed to write recovery plans, and only one of them has a real plan, and that's actually two plans.

 

Mayor Tom Murphy's team's plan, released May 12, calls for some mix of seven new taxes -- none of which he can collect without new state laws. Those taxes would take anywhere from $50 to $200 from your piggy bank, SKIM. That's no walk in the under-maintained park! But don't worry; those are Mayor Tom's ideas, so they'll fall apart like a Crash Force R/C RegeneratorTM remote control truck -- then pop back together next year, and crumple again!

 

Next, there's the Act 47 plan, put together by 30 lawyers (some are probably your neighbors!) picked by Gov. Ed Rendell. They'd lower your mercantile tax by $33, but raise the occupational privilege tax and introduce payroll taxes, potentially costing you $293!!! That's a net loss of $260. Remember to egg their houses next Devil's Night.

 

Fortunately for you, SKIM, state lawmakers are already trashing that plan. The Act 47 team's Plan B includes a 1.4 percent income tax on commuters, and based on $40,000 in income, that would cost you $560. But you can deduct the $320 in income tax you pay to Mt. Leb, so you're really down $240. That beats Plan A by $20 -- the cost of that new Radica Skannerz UPC Scanner GameTM you've probably been eyeing, Baron Bar Code.

 

The third team is the oversight board, created mostly by state lawmakers. It was supposed to release a plan April 12, but didn't -- just some vague stuff. It is supposed to release another plan June 12, but has already said that won't be "definitive." State lawmakers are waiting for the oversight board's ideas before they approve anything. By the time that happens, you may be well into the forthcoming sixth Harry PotterTM book -- maybe even the seventh!

 

So all that math was a waste of time, SKIM: The oversight board's your team -- at least for this year. See, that pool you're milking for business is open this year only because a bunch of rich people are bailing out the parks department. If there's no solution by 2005, that watering hole might be empty next year, and you may have to move your lemonade stand to the Dormont Pool. Bad news: That's rival turf. Those Keystone Oaks kids will clean their wooden playground with your pretty little Mt. Leb face!

 

Here's Tommy's plan, SKIM. Root for the oversight board this year. Then plunge your profits into a new pool/lemonade/slots parlor just beyond the city limits. This turtle will be there with shells on!

 

-- Tommy (a.k.a. Rich Lord)

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