Philadelphia City Council debating soda, other taxes for schools

Philadelphia City Council has begun debating whether to tax soda and raise property taxes to help the school district close a $600 million deficit.

The Mayor has sent bills to City Council to enact a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks and to increase in the school district portion of the property tax ten percent. Councilman Wilson Goode said the city isn’t going to be able to provide all the money the district wants.

“The number is over 100 million some of which may be covered by the state or other stakeholders. The number we are targeting now is 66 million,” said Goode.

Councilman Darrell Clarke said the school district will need to prove the money is needed to get his vote.

“I’m not comfortable signing off on any levels of contribution until we get an accurate accounting of what is needed and what the funding will be used for in a very very targeted way,” said Clarke.

Bottlers, unions and even mom and pop grocery stores are against the soda tax, which would add 24 cents to the cost of a regular size can of soda. Larry Ceisler is a spokesman for the alliance that defeated a soda tax last year. He said the tax will cut into sales and put people out of work.

“Common sense dictates when there is a loss of revenue there will be a loss of jobs,” said Ceisler.

At this point there doesn’t appear to be any consensus on the tax plan.

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