LOCAL NEWS

Seattle council questions mayor’s plans for extra soda tax money

Oct 23, 2018, 12:15 PM | Updated: 2:34 pm
soda tax...
The Seattle soda tax went into effect Jan. 1, 2018. (Dyer Oxley,

Mayor Jenny Durkan has a plan for the millions of extra dollars brought in by Seattle’s soda tax, but the city council is not ready to sign off on the idea.

RELATED: Is I-1634 about groceries, soda taxes, or union jobs?

Seattle’s sugary beverage — or soda tax — was expected to bring in about $15 million in its first year. It’s now expected to add up to more like $21 million by the end of 2018.

The mayor’s proposed budget uses that money for healthy food and education programs that, until now, had been paid for through the general fund. The extra money could allow Durkan some general fund cash to balance the mayor’s overall budget, which increases spending on homelessness, police, and other priorities.

But some on the city council are upset with the mayor’s proposal. That includes Debra Juarez, who said in a Monday budget session that she was really disappointed that programs included in the soda tax legislation were not getting any of the extra money.

“It’s like a bait-and-switch,” Juarez said. “You said ‘please pass this tax for poor people so we can worry about obesity and actually have a place where people can have food because we have food banks and other programs like Fresh Bucks. Oh, but by the way, we had an increase, but we’re not going to raise money in the programs that we originally intended this money for,'” Juarez said.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien had similar concerns, pointing out that the council knew the soda tax would hit the poorest communities hardest, but passed it anyway because the money was going to be used for healthy food and education programs to benefit those communities.

“It’s really important that we’re not using a tax on these low-income communities to fund broader societal needs — that are good things to do,” O’Brien said. “If we need to do that, we should be coming up with a more equitable tax, but instead the specific revenue that we’re dedicating from here should be going back into those communities as directed.”

He also indicated he had a plan to to keep a similar swap from happening in 2020.

Seattle soda tax: Council vs mayor

The Seattle Times reports that the council plans to pass the mayor’s budget, but with changes. It’s not yet clear what those could be.

In a statement, the mayor’s office said:

Mayor Durkan’s proposed budget plan reflects her commitment to focusing on essential services, addressing our affordability crisis, creating a more inclusive Seattle, and investing in a city of the future. That’s why her proposed budget invests in sustainability, food security, and expanding access to transit. In developing her new budget plan for Seattle, Mayor Durkan evaluated all available revenue streams and efficiencies to ensure the City of Seattle is living within its means. The City Budget Office and the Mayor’s Office have not received proposed cuts from City Council that would make up for re-appropriating Sweetened Beverage Tax revenue.

Her office added, “The Mayor’s proposed budget both continues and expands funding for healthy food access and educational readiness for children and high school graduates, among other programs, consistent with the intended uses of the Sweetened Beverage Tax.”

It is still unclear whether the soda tax is cutting down on consumption as it was intended to. A University of Washington report studied consumption rates and other issues related to the tax. That analysis was originally expected to be presented to the council on Monday, but has been pushed back until later in the fall, according to the King County Health Department.

RELATED: How Seattle felt about a sugary beverage tax before it was passed

RELATED: Is Seattle’s beverage tax making people healthier?

Local News

boeing...
Nicole Jennings

Seattle attorney representing 737 MAX victims’ families weighs in on Boeing arraignment

A Seattle attorney representing 50 of the families of victims of the Boeing 737 MAX crashes gives his take on the fraud charge against Boeing.
23 hours ago
sun...
Frank Sumrall

Seattle finally experiences first 5 p.m. sunset of 2023

Ninety days have passed since Seattle saw a sunset at or later than 5 p.m., but the city will enjoy its first 5 p.m. sunset this week.
23 hours ago
doomsday...
Bill Kaczaraba

Poll: Nearly half feel we are nearing the end of the world

In a KIRO Newsradio Twitter poll, almost half of all participants feel we are nearing the end of the world.
23 hours ago
deer...
Micki Gamez

Study: Staying in standard time leads to more deer-vehicle collisions

When we turn back our clocks each November, we increase our chances of hitting deer because they come out in abundance at night.
23 hours ago
ballard business owners...
Jake Chapman, KIRO 7 News

Woman hit and killed by SPD car identified; officer was responding to call nearby

According to police, the officer was heading north on Dexter Avenue North on Monday night, responding to a ‘priority one’ call.
23 hours ago
rainier...
L.B. Gilbert

Mount Rainier, national parks receive ‘record-setting’ $1.1 million

Washington’s National Park Fund announced that they were distributing $1.1 million to use at projects to improve the parks.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Seattle council questions mayor’s plans for extra soda tax money