Local Chamber Of Commerce Members Say Its Time To Repeal The Beverage Tax

CHICAGO (CBS) — Opposition to Cook County’s new tax on sweetened and non-sweetened beverages seems to be growing as restaurants and stores report business is down, hours are being cut and local Chambers of Commerce say its time to repeal.

Mike Moreno Jr., who’s family has been in the restaurant and liquor business in Little Village for generations, suggests maybe it’s time to recreate the Boston Tea Party and dump soda into the lake.

“I’m not saying there’s going to be a revolution or anything, but how far do we have to take this before we realize that it’s affecting businesses,” Moreno said.

And their customers, said restaurant owner Christina Gonzalez.

“Most of our locations are in low-income communities, so a lot of times this is going to be the deciding factor,” Gonzalez said.

She said it’s costing restaurants up to 200-percent more for fountain drink syrup.

“It sends the message that all we want to do is take their money in taxes,” Gonzalez said.

Little Village Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jaime Di Paulo said businesses and consumers are feeling it.

“If you walk into a grocery store you’re probably going to see a couple soda cans by the cashier. People are returning the items because they don’t want to pay the tax,” Di Paulo said.

Bill Morton, of the Rogers Park Chamber, said the obesity argument is debunked.

“This is not a health issue, this is financial,” Morton said.

He said there are bigger consequences in terms of lost business and cut employee hours, as people stop buying soda or leave Cook County to stock up.

They spoke at a restaurant in the Little Village neighborhood, continuing a campaign financed by the American Beverage Association.

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