PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Lamar Advertising is not happy about a tax on billboards that two Pittsburgh City Council members have proposed.
So, the company has found a different way to express its opposition.
Usually politicians pay to have their names on billboards, but Lamar Advertising is targeting two city councilwomen in their own billboard campaign because the two council members have proposed a 10 percent tax on billboard revenue.
“My first reaction was actually to laugh out loud,” Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Lamar is posting billboards around the city that accuse Rudiak and City Council President Darlene Harris of raising taxes.
Both say their tax is not aimed at residents, but at billboard companies like Lamar who, they say, do not pay their fair share compared to city residents.
Harris: “Some billboards pay $30 for the ground their billboard is on, not for the structure.”
Delano: “Just $30?”
Harris: “Or under. Some are $9.”
Harris and Rudiak say prime sign locations sell for millions of dollars, but the property taxes on these billboards are next to nothing, and that’s not fair.
“City taxpayers pay for the maintenance and the safety of the roads that those billboards sit on, and I don’t know anyone whose property taxes are less than $40,” noted Rudiak.
The councilwomen estimate the billboard tax could bring in at least $2 million a year which they want to use to replace aging police cars.
“We would like to have a line item that would be for police vehicles,” added Harris.
Lamar says the proposed tax is illegal and, if approved, will just be passed along to customers who use billboards.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has not taken a position on this bill and says his law department is reviewing it.
A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30 with a vote not likely until later this year.
In the meantime, watch for more billboards to go up, accusing Harris and Rudiak of raising taxes.
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