County officials to vote to repeal Chicago-area soda tax

Cook County has placed a tax on sweetened beverages but now it likely will be repealed. | Rich Hein  Sun-Times

Cook County has placed a tax on sweetened beverages but now it likely will be repealed. | Rich Hein Sun-Times

The ordinance eliminates the so-called soda tax beginning December 1, the first day of fiscal year 2018.

Grace, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 830, called on Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council to repeal the city's own sweetened beverage tax. Groceries, restaurants and convenience stores complained the tax was driving consumers to neighboring jurisdictions to avoid the tax.

"We are pleased that Cook County commissioners heard the concerns of constituents and grocers and voted to repeal the county's beverage tax", said Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer of the Arlington, Va. -based Food Marketing Institute.

Chamling said though he noticed the number of soda sales only drop "a bit", repealing the tax would help the county's small businesses that rely on soda sales.

Of course there will be layoffs, everything's on the table, says Preckwinkle, but she's putting the ball in the commissioners court to say where $200M of cuts should come from.

The Can the Tax Coalition, backed by the American Beverage Association, said municipalities across the country should consider Cook County's experience if they are flirting with tax programs aimed at the beverage industry.

The tax repeal faces a final vote from the full board this week.

The tax, which was projected to raise $200 million annually, raised $16 million from August 3 to September 20, approximately $2 million less than expected, according to Frank Shuftan, a spokesman for Preckwinkle. But since all commissioners are on the finance committee, the vote leaves little doubt as to what will happen during Wednesday's regular board meeting. The tax was applied to most beverages sweetened either with sugar or artificial sweeteners sold in retail or foodservice; exceptions included barista-blended coffees or other mixed-to-order drinks. Bloomberg is the founder of the financial data and media company Bloomberg L.P. Bloomberg BNA is an affiliate of Bloomberg L.P.

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