Sugar-sweetened beverages excise tax for parks

by Greg Lincoln

Hello friends. If you like to drink pop in Bethel and you also enjoy our city parks, this might interest you.

The City of Bethel council will be considering an ordinance to create an excise tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverage products.

The excise tax, if the ordinance passes, will be one cent ($0.01) per fluid ounce in addition to any other taxes imposed by the City. The tax would be imposed only when the supply, acquisition, delivery or transport is for the ultimate retail sale of the sugar-sweetened beverage products within the City.

The revenues collected from the proposed excise tax would be dedicated to the park development fund and shall be designated for the funding of park and recreational design and development, park maintenance and other recreational opportunities in the City of Bethel.

Ordinance 20-25 regarding this matter is on the consent agenda for this Tuesday’s meeting and is sponsored by council member Michelle DeWitt.

“The goal of enhancing close-to-home outdoor recreation for Bethel citizens, improving park maintenance for current parks, and maintaining and extending the community’s trail system is a priority for the City Council,” states Ord.20-25. “Playgrounds are identified as one of the best investments in citizens and cities can make in their children as playgrounds provide children critical unstructured, outdoor, creative and active play.”

Currently, there are four subdivisions in Bethel that do not have parks: Uivik, Blueberry, Larson, and Kasayuli. The City has a trail system, but expansion is needed to improve community accessibility for residents and visitors, says the proposed ordinance.

“Bottled Sugar-Sweetened Beverage” means any sugar-sweetened beverage in a container that is ready for consumption without further processing, such as, and without limitation, dilution or carbonization, which contains at least 5 grams of caloric sweetened per 12 fluid ounces. It includes all drinks and beverages commonly referred to as soda, pop, cola, soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened ice teas, sweetened coffees, or any other common names that are derivations thereof.

If Ord. 20-25 is adopted, a new chapter will be added to the Bethel Municipal Code and shall become effective sixty days following adoption.