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El Monte to Put Proposed Soda Tax on Ballot, Declare Fiscal Emergency

The city is pursuing the tax on sugary drinks as a new funding source. It could raise up to $7 million a year.

A measure to add a one cent per ounce tax to sugary drinks sold in neighboring El Monte will go before voters in November.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to place the proposed tax on the ballot. The tax, which would apply to sodas and other sugary drinks, could raise an estimated $3.5 million to $7 million to help replace some of the revenue lost to state budget cutbacks, according to city officials.

Noting that the city is seeking "nontraditional funding sources'' in the midst of a sluggish economy, a city statement says the tax "may also help battle high tendencies for Type2 diabetes among local residents.''

The measure would give the city the option of imposing a business license fee on wholesalers of sugary drinks who sell to local retailers and would include a companion measure to give voters some say in how the funds are spent.

"We're looking at the possibility of addressing two issues here,'' said El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero.

"Our residents are disproportionately feeling the impacts of drinking soda and juices that are causing them to have heart attacks, strokes and contract Type2 Diabetes. This is a significant issue for our community and we need to start driving that discussion.

At the same time, the lagging economy is creating a budget deficit that could negatively impact, among other things our recreation programs, which contribute to a healthy community.''

El Monte faced a $1.1 million deficit in its $50.5 million general fund budget, forcing staff cuts and employee benefit reductions. The city is also looking at further reductions of its workforce on the order of 6.5 percent.

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Donald Shade July 31, 2012 at 04:58 AM
A one-cent per ounce soda tax? If my grocery shopping list included a couple 12 packs soda, I'd be headed to an out of town market to do ALL my grocery shopping rather than pay the additional $2.88. A 3 liter bottle of soda at the El Monte 99 Cent Only store will cost $2.01??? A large Coke at an El Monte McDonalds will be taxed at a rate of 32%? I hope the citizens of El Monte are alert enough to recognize the negative impact this will have on any local businesses that sells soda. If the elected leaders of El Monte think people won't go elsewhere to avoid El Monte's 50% to 100% tax on their drinks, they are either crazy or don't care about be re-elected. I am so glad I don't live there. PS - I drink sugar free Coke. El Monte already charges an extra 1/2 percent Sales Tax...no wonder they lost car dealerships.
Tony September 29, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Taxing soda is stupid!
Tomas October 23, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Taxing soda is stupid, but it's not only soda. Measure H includes even taxing my Tampico...that's just wrong!

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