Last Friday Mayor Jenny Durkan vetoed the ordinance setting new restrictions on how Sweetened Beverage Tax revenues can be spent. Vetoes are incredibly rare in Seattle City Hall, so that sent everyone (including me) scrambling to the City Charter to see what happens next. Yes, we all know in theory how it works, but the details matter.
In June of 2017 the City Council passed a sales tax on sweetened beverages, to take effect on January 1, 2018. Now, with some initial data in hand, the Mayor and City Council are deciding how to spend the tax revenues over the next two years. But things haven’t turned out the way the experts predicted, raising questions about whether the “soda tax” was such a good idea in the first place. It equally raises questions about the motives of the city officials charting the tax’s future.