Soda tax not popped yet

CITY HALL. A mad scramble by City Council Thursday to determine what should be taxed to pay for the expected $130 million deficit facing the city July 1 proved fruitless as it couldn’t agree on any solution.

An effort by Councilman Brian O’Neill to eliminate a proposal to tax sugary beverages found strong opposition among some colleagues, only a few weeks after Mayor Michael Nutter’s idea initially found widespread disdain.

And during the same Council meeting, a bill to raise property taxes by 12 percent was removed — only to be replaced by a proposal to raise property taxes 9 percent over the next two years. Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. introduced the bill, which neither he or anyone else on Council wanted to show support for.

The chaotic meeting came on the same day that a group called the Campaign for Healthy Kids released a poll showing that 55 percent of the likely voters surveyed support the proposed 2 cent per ounce tax on sugary beverages, also known as the soda tax.

A local organizer for the national group, which has lobbied in other cities and states that have proposed similar taxes, said he believes Council’s newfound indecision on the idea is partly from a growing awareness that some Philadelphians support it. The poll, conducted by Strategy Group, asked 401 likely city voters.

“There is so much concern over the childhood obesity,” organizer Tony May said after speaking with some Council members and Nutter. “I think City Council was [initially] responding to the initial outcry from people in the beverage industry.”