If you drink soda pop or sweetened teas or flavored water or energy ades in the city of Pittsburgh, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl wants to tax them. Ravenstahl wants to impose a 2 cents per ounce tax on the sale of sugary drinks. That means a 20 ounce bottle of one of those beverages would cost an additional 40 cents in the city.
Ravenstahl says the city needs $15 million annually in recurring revenues to bolster the city's underfunded pension program. He says this is in addition to his plan to lease the city's parking garages for 50 years and use the estimated $200 million to get up to the state mandated 50% level of pension obligations.
Ravenstahl says his administration has come up with 3 options to fill the $15 million hole: raising the municipal services tax from the current $52 a year to $144; imposing a payroll preparation tax on non-profits; and, now the sugary drink tax....
"You might not like them but they (the options) are there. Doing nothing is not an option because doing nothing will require City Council to raise property taxes on city residents. That's not the road I want to go down. I prefer these other options."
Restaurants have criticized Ravenstahl's proposal but the mayor said the city needs help and "everyone has a role to play."
Any of those 3 taxes would require approval by the state legislature.
Philadelphia is considering a similar sugary drink tax. Only one major city in the country currently has such a tax. Chicago has a 3% tax which adds 3 cents to a one dollar bottle or can of those beverages.