BALTIMORE (WJZ) –New battles are brewing over Baltimore’s bottled beverage tax.  It’s been in effect almost a year, and now the city is making house calls to enforce it.

Kai Jackson has more on the city’s new push and the outcry from local businesses.

There’s concern by city leaders that money from the beverage tax is falling short.  That’s no surprise to opponents, who say it’s hurting their businesses.

Faced with a $121 million budget deficit, the Baltimore City Council passed a two-cent beverage tax last year.  City leaders hoped it would close the budget gap.

“We’re cut to the bone.  Without new revenue, basic city services will be impacted,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at the time.

Beer, soft drinks and juice with less than 10 percent fruit juice were subject to the tax.  The Bi-Rite grocery store on Bel Air Road is a family-owned business that’s been in Baltimore since the 1960s.  The owner says the beverage tax—even though it’s just two cents—is killing her.

“It’s affected us by driving our customers into the county to purchase more of their sodas,” said Sandy Vary.

“The taxes add up,” said Tasha Coppedge, Northeast Baltimore. “I think they need to do away with it.”

According to the law, beverage distributors pay the tax to the city up front.  They pass that cost to retailers, who pass it along to the customers.  So news that the city would be auditing retailers was puzzling.

“The fact that somebody from the city can come in and is authorized to access our business records is a concern to us,” Vary said.

The law says businesses and distributors are responsible for keeping accurate records and those records are subject to city audit.  There’s no word about whether that could lead to a challenge in court.

Comments (11)
  1. CHUCK says:

    When are you DUMMICRATS going to get it,we are tired of funding your welfare bum programs.You tax the working people,give it to the BUMS,LAZY UNPRODUCTIVE WELFARE SLUG’s,and the ILLEGAL’s (eg. tuition-instate).Then at election time you get the bum vote,and tell the people “LOOK WHAT I DID FOR YOU”(now pay the bill SUCKER’S……..).

  2. Bell Bordeaux says:

    @Chuck calling names will not balance the Baltimore Budget any quicker especially calling poor people bums. Welfare isn’t the only thing that should be held into account. You have to take in account the entire public works budget Police, Fire, road work, city workers, teachers electricity, gas ect. who, if not for this bottle tax increase, would have to have more days furlough and even less pay than what they’re sacrificing now.

    Your narrow argument that you don’t want illegal immigrants who have been living in the state going to state public high schools and actually did well enough to get into college in the state to pay out of state tuition is a flawed argument. We all know that college educated people make more than non… and you’re already complaining about poor bums… right… so wouldn’t you want them to be successful so they can become legal and pay their fair share of taxes or even repay what they used from the state? I don’t know about you but I’d take the educated illegal immigrant any day over the drug dealers and criminals that are legal and that are already in our state.

    *Here’s the solution*

    Instead of small businesses lobbying to the government to lower taxes on unhealthy drinks. They could either 1: lobby to Pepsi, Coke or what have you to make more drinks with more than 10% fruit in them or 2: sell more and market better +10% fruit drinks in their stores.

    Cutting welfare for the less fortunate and telling good Maryland students, who would use their degree in Maryland and they graduate, to pay out of state tuition is ridiculous and exclusionary.

    Not everyone is lazy it is difficult to find a job right now.

  3. Debbie says:

    Chuck I agree 100% with you. Cutting “career welfare” receivers, eliminating the massive fraud in our welfare and food stamp programs and treating ILLEGALS like the criminals they are will sure free up a lot more money than this continual stream of taxes on the legal and working citizens of MD to provide for illegals and those with their hands out looking for someone else to provide for them.

    1. jim says:

      OH YES DEBBIE I agree with you and chuck. BUT the goverment has not gotten it yet!!!!!

    2. jim says:

      I for one have made big cuts in my budget and they hurt!!!!!!!!!! Now the city and state have to do the same!!!!!!!!! And stop the CRYING!!!!!!

  4. STFU says:

    Bell Bordeaux must live in Neverland with Peter Pan and Tinkerbell because it sounds like he’s never going the get it.
    Either that or he is an illegal alien taking welfare, medical assistance and foodstamps.

  5. angie says:

    i can tell you that people do diliberately not get a job. There’s always mcdonalds, burger king, warehouses, etc to work at. Even if you work 2 jobs, you can still do it. I did it and i’m 30. I’ve been on my own for some now. Working 2-3 jobs sometimes to get extra money. There is absolutely no excuse. Just because it’s not the job you have dreamed, doesn’t mean it isn’t going to help.

    The government is constantly finding ways to bleed us citizens dry. Every time they get low on funds…….it’s oooooh, let’s take from the people we know they have the extra funds even though half the population is unemployed, so therefore, really if you tax sodas and the unemployed pay for them…….guess what? You are still paying to yourselves!

  6. angie says:

    you’re never going to get ahead with this accusation. It will be a constant circle that you will never get out of. The government get paid better than these ideas. I mean come on!

  7. nini says:

    I’m with you Bell thanks for the ideas. It’s scary how many ignorant comments were posted.

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