Seattle has been collecting taxes on sweetened beverages since January 1, 2018.
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Seattle has been collecting taxes on sweetened beverages since January 1, 2018.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Seattle City Council, mayor at odds over soda tax money

Revenue from Seattle’s soda tax is higher than anticipated.

Now the mayor and the City Council have slightly different ideas on what to do with the extra money.

When Seattle passed the soda tax last year it estimated collecting more than $14 million in revenue. That estimate has been revised to nearly $21 million.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has proposed using some of that money for other existing programs like child care assistance. But Councilmember Mike O’Brien said that’s not the intent of the soda tax.

“It’s important that we’re not using a tax on these low income communities to fund broader societal needs that are good things to do,” he said. “Instead, the specific revenue that we’re dedicating from here should be going back into those communities.”

Councilmember Debora Juarez said she wants to increase local food bank funding. 

“The spirit and the intent of the law was to free up these funds so food banks could provide more than food," she said. "So these community based organizations can do other things with their money."

Other ideas for using soda tax revenue include expanding the city’s Fresh Bucks program that helps low income families buy produce.