Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– In a significant move, Baltimore’s bottle tax is no longer stopped up in a City Council committee. It’s now going to the full council.
Mike Hellgren has the newest developments and how much they could cost you.
It appears the issue is not going to fizzle. The mayor wants to use the money exclusively for education.
The battle is heating up at Baltimore City Hall over whether to cork or more than double the tax grocers must charge on most bottled drinks.
Under a plan the mayor backs, that tax would rise from two cents to five cents by July of next year.
But the beverage industry claims it would destroy jobs.
“It’s been a very unfair position to be put in to wage the schools against the food industry,” grocer Rob Santoni said.
The tax would raise $10 million to fix schools, repairing crumbling out-of-date buildings city-wide.
“It’s impossible for our young people to compete with the rest of the children in the state and learn at the rate that they should when you have to deal with those kind of conditions every day,” Councilman Brandon Scott (District 2) said.
The tax excludes bottles with a certain amount of juice, dairy products and those containers more than two liters in size.
The tax finally passed out of the committee where it had been bottled up for months. The full council is expected to vote on raising it next week.
The mayor says she has the votes on the council to pass it even in tough times for many in Baltimore.
“They already tax us enough on all the other stuff we’re buying,” one Baltimore resident said.
“I do think we are taxed to death, but if it’s actually going to what it’s supposed to be going to, then I think it would be a good idea,” said another.
But it’s not a done deal yet with the opposition proposing alternatives ahead of the vote next Monday.
“I can give her the same amount of money, but in a different format. I hope that that’s good enough,” Santoni said.
There was a proposal to extend the current two-cent tax beyond its expiration date next year, but it failed in committee on Monday.
Santoni would not provide details on his alternative proposals but said he is in talks with several council members.