Council Privately Discusses Taxing Diet Soda, Too

Council President Darrell Clarke is floating alternatives to the mayor's proposed soda tax.

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City Council President Darrell Clarke is still trying to find the sweet spot when it comes to Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed three-cents-per-ounce soda tax.

The administration says that rate would bring in $95 million a year to fund expanded pre-K, community schools, and improvements on parks and recreation centers. On Wednesday, Clarke sent a memo to all members of City Council laying out a variety of alternatives to Kenney’s plan.

A one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages would raise $58 million a year, according to an analysis by technical staff who work for the Council President, and a one-point-five-cents-per-ounce tax would raise $77 million. Those numbers go up if diet sodas are thrown into the mix, the memo noted. The letter also spelled out how much revenue would be generated from different combinations of a soda tax and a container tax, which Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced as an alternative last month. (She hates these cans!)

In the memo, which was first reported by the Inquirer, Clarke referred to the alternatives as a “menu” of funding options.

“Obviously, here are an infinite number of variations that could be considered, but in the interest of coming to consensus, this chart focuses on a limited number of options for your consideration,” Clarke wrote. “Other variations that you may want to propose could certainly be considered.”

Kenney’s spokeswoman, Lauren Hitt, said on Thursday that Kenney and Clarke have talked about the various tax proposals since a budget hearing last week, when Clarke called the proposed three-cent soda tax “divisive” and “ridiculous.” Hitt said the administration is continuing discuss alternatives with Council members, but is “still committed to fully funding the proposals.”

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