A battle is already brewing over El Monte's effort to tax all sugary beverages sold within the city, as the City Council faced criticism from residents and business groups at its meeting Tuesday.
The proposal, which is one of the first of its kind in California, would add a 1-cent tax to every ounce of "sugar sweetened" drinks sold within the city. El Monte's council members voted unanimously to place the measure on the November ballot, saying that it would provide much-needed revenue for the city government and combat the health problems caused by sodas and other sweet beverages.
Business leaders are starting to challenge the sugary drinks tax, arguing that it would hurt El Monte's local economy.
"It is irresponsible for a city with 13.7% unemployment to impose a new business tax on beverages that will threaten local grocers, restaurants and movie theaters and the jobs they provide in the community," said Bob Achermann, executive director of the California/Nevada Soft Drink Assn. "Singling out one item in the grocery cart for an additional tax is discriminatory and regressive, and it makes no sense."
Mayor Andre Quintero, who first introduced the tax plan earlier this year, said he was not surprised by the backlash. A similar plan proposed at the state level by Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Carmel) failed last year, after opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce, California Restaurant Assn. and other food industry advocacy groups.