Mayor McGinn proposes soda tax for Seattle

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Seattle's mayor has a new proposal that would force taxpayers to pay more for soda.

The money generated by the one-cent tax on each ounce of soda would fund city parks.

"I think it's worth looking at because of what it could finance and because it does impact a public health issue as well," Mayor Mike McGinn said.

The city would tax businesses selling soda. McGinn admits they would likely pass that on to customers.

It would mean an extra 12 cents on a 12-ounce can of soda. If a person buys a 12-pack, that's $1.44 extra each time.

Over a year, if a person buys one every other week, he or she would be spending $37.44 more.

The owner of Scratch Deli said it puts him in a tough place.

"Our customers see us raising our prices and we don't really get anything out of that besides getting the negative energy of someone saying, 'Oh, I'm paying more for this now,'" owner Ian Thackaberry said.

People like Tim Bulmer, who was drinking a Big Gulp, weren't pleased either.

"Definitely not 32 cents for just a soda. I don't think they should do it," he said.

The mayor said the tax would generate at least $20 million a year for extending hours at community centers and addressing more than $200 million in a backlog of park maintenance issues.

KIRO 7 asked him why he's looking at soda and not coffee or juice.

"We've seen soda consumption go up and obesity go up and diabetes go up," he said. "We believe this is something the public deserves a chance to weigh in on."

KIRO 7 asked McGinn's challenger, state Sen. Ed Murray, his thoughts on the possible tax.

He said the city needs to look at other sources of revenue to fund the deep needs in the Parks and Recreation Department.

"I don't think it would be enough money," he said. "I don't think it solves the problem. I don't think he's vetted it with the council and he didn't include it in his budget."

Murray said he supports other options like a citywide property tax.