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EL MONTE (CBSLA.com) — A proposed tax on sugary drinks and sodas sold in El Monte will go before voters in November, after the City Council voted unanimously to put the measure on the ballot.
The City Council voted Tuesday night to let voters decide on the proposed tax, which would tax one cent per ounce of sugary drinks sold in the city. If approved, the tax is expected to raise an estimated $3.5 million to $7 million to help replace revenue lost to state budget cutbacks.
“We have some major financial hurdles down the road that we’re gonna need to deal with, and we need to consider putting something like this on the ballot,” Mayor Andre Quintero said before the vote.
The tax, in simple terms, would tax a 12-ounce can of soda 12 cents, 68 cents for a 2-liter bottle and 72 cents for every 6-pack. If a 6-pack costs $3, that 72 cents equals a 24 percent tax, CBS2/KCAL9’s Carter Evans reported.
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.
El Monte officials say the tax has a double benefit – it would raise some much needed funding for the city, and may encourage residents to cut down on their sugary beverages. But residents like Andrew Liprenjak say a tax is simply a tax.
“If they’re trying to make a point of watching what these kids drink and eat, it should be learned in school,” Liprenjak said.
In order to hold the special election to allow voters to approve the tax, the City Council declared a fiscal emergency at Tuesday night’s meeting. The special election will cost the cash-strapped city $65,000.