Philly Soda Tax to be Approved by City Council

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Tonight, Philadelphia City Council is expected to give final approval to the new soda tax, which will put a one-and-a-half cent, per ounce, tax on sugary drinks.

For example, a 20-ounce soda, anywhere in the city, would be 30 cents more expensive; a 2-liter would cost about $1.02 more.

The tax is expected to bring in an addition $91 million in annual revenue.

Mayor Jim Kenney had advertised the tax saying the money generated would fund the city’s education programs including an expanded pre-kindergarten.

Kenney said it would also pay for park improvements along with some of the money going towards the city’s general fund.

However, over the last few weeks, city officials have announced that almost 20% of the money raised would go to other city programs and employee benefits.

Over the next five years the changes include $81.4 million in funding for things like disability settlements along with programs within Health and Human Services such as feeding the homeless.

Last week, in addition to giving preliminary approval to the soda tax, the Committee of the Whole also advanced Council Majority Whip Blondell Reynolds Brown’s Bill offering tax credits to merchants that opt to sell healthy beverages in their stores.

The American Beverage Association has been lobbying against the tax and funded a coalition called the “No Philly Grocery Tax.” Other local, small convenience store owners say this will hurt their business.

Council will vote on the soda tax this evening.