Hearing on Soda Tax, Trash Fee Heats Up

Soda tax opponents are up in City Council today and they are all riled up.

Today Council is hearing testimony on Mayor Nutter’s proposals to charge a $300 trash fee and a levy a 2 cent per ounce soda tax to help fill a $150 million budget gap. People opposing the soda proposal are backed into chambers, waving signs and wearing buttons.

As Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity Don Schwartz testified about the health benefits of a soda tax, he was briefly drowned out by boos.

“Obesity has become a norm and a public health crisis in Philadelphia,” Schwartz said.

More fireworks are expected later today, as a lengthy list of health advocates, academics and business owners are set to testify both for and against the proposals.

UPDATE, 12:25 p.m.: Council has been hitting the Nutter administration hard on the tax proposals. Councilman Bill Green questioned why the city doesn't do a pay as you throw trash fee, which would charge people based on how much trash they put out. And Councilman Darrell Clarke stressed that comparisons with other cities are tricky when it comes to trash fees, because many cities don't have a wage tax.

Green also requested that the city show Council what the impact of cuts would be, if there were less new taxes. "It’s hard to engage in this discussion about a revenue measure and receive that response without knowing what the actual impact would be," he said.