Albany MEASURE O1 2016

Sugar-Sweetened Beverage General Tax

Simple majority vote required

The Question:  Shall an ordinance enacting a one cent per ounce general tax, providing approximately $223,000 annually with no expiration date, on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages and sweeteners used to sweeten such drinks, be adopted?

The Situation:  Scientific consensus agrees that current rates of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption are at least partially responsible for incidence of various health conditions, such as diabetes. Albany’s measure would tax sugar-sweetened beverages while exempting: (1) sweeteners typically used by consumers and distributed to grocery stores; (2) drinks and sweeteners distributed to small retailers; (3) milk products, 100% juice, baby formula, alcohol, or drinks taken for medical reasons.

The Proposal:   The tax on added-calorie sweeteners would be calculated based on the number of ounces of sweetened beverage that would typically be produced using that sweetener.  Three existing Albany Commissions will provide advice to the Council regarding the expenditure of tax revenue.

Fiscal Effect:  It is estimated that there will be approximately  $223,000 in “general tax” to be distributed to meet public health needs.  No estimate regarding the cost of management.

Supporters Say:   

  • Tax may generally reduce the availability of sugared drinks while raising an estimate of $223,000 that can be used for public health.
  • An annual process will guide the City in how to spend the funds.
  • Berkeley passed a similar sugary drink tax in 2014. It is working:  A UC Berkeley study, published August 2016, shows a 21 percent drop in consumption of sugary beverages in Berkeley’s low-income neighborhoods

Opponents Say: 

  • This tax is not working in Berkeley.  It is a cost that is being passed to the consumer on any item purchased.
  • The ballot measure states “This is a general tax that will provide revenue to be available for general government needs.  No requirement to used on public health.
  • The last thing we need is a “grocery” tax that makes our city even more expensive

A “Yes” vote means:  A “Yes” vote is a vote in favor of the tax.

A “No” vote means:  “No” vote is a vote against the tax.