66% of Sewickley businesses pay their “Business Privilege tax”, according to Borough
Councilmember Hendrix van der Waart.
Parking Authority members tell us 75% of drivers who receive Sewickley parking tickets pay
The result of the one-out-of- three businesses who don’t pay the one mil tax on their revenues
shifts a financial burden to tax paying businesses, and ultimately, property owners.
The loss from the one-out-of-four who fail to pay parking tickets?
The total is $80,000, according to Parking Authority Member Delvin Miller.
So, yes, the non-payers are scofflaws, who, according to Mr. Van der Waart, must be compelled
to pay. He pointed out at the June Council meeting that the law instituting the Business Tax
was enacted in 1981. The third-party collection firm hired by the borough is looking back to
That sounds like a reasonable compromise, but it avoids a bigger question. Who is responsible
for the failure to pursue collection of the business privilege tax for nearly three decades?
Successions of Council Members? The Borough Manager? The borough’s Tax Collector?
And why did it take decades for Borough Council members to notice the loss of income?
The original Parking Authority members – the founding members – were not in power for
decades, but they were around long enough to pursue parking fine “scofflaws” – one has 76
unpaid tickets, and another, 88. Why did they let this go? They have a time-honored procedure
for collecting unpaid fines: the local Magistrate.
Mr. Van der Waaart acknowledged that a local business owner could indeed feel entitled to
ignore a tax that has not been collected for decades.
We’re not sure about the parking fines, but we don’t endorse “boots” that disable the cars of
parking fine avoiders in many major cities. Sewickley’s made enough of a mess of its parking
situation, and undoubtedly lost plenty of goodwill, without adding the sight of ugly yellow boots
clamped onto cars in the Village.
We’re not sure there’s any way to hold officials accountable for decades-long failures to enforce
laws on the books, but we will look into it. Those officials took oaths of office.
Just asking: who are the real scofflaws?
By Peggy Standish and Anne Clarke-Ronce