Ballot Issue 2A would impose a penny-per-ounce tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages sold in Telluride. It would apply to soda, juice drinks, sports drinks, some coffee drinks and even drink powders like cocoa and lemonade. The people behind this tax claim it is necessary to fight childhood obesity – but a lot of those people aren’t even from Telluride.
According to the Kick the Can Telluride website, the town council voted “unanimously” to put the beverage tax on the November ballot. The truth is, it wasn’t a unanimous vote. The council was split four to two with one member absent. (You can see the resolution vote yourself at www.telluride-co.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1578)
Harold Goldstein and Jeff Ritterman – two of the people behind the Kick the Can campaign – are part of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. They’ve traveled all over the United States, and even Mexico, trying to sell communities on the idea that a beverage tax is a quick fix to the obesity crisis. Now, they’re coming here. Telluride is just the next stop on their big, bad, scary soda tour.
It seems like everybody is determined to tell Telluride what to do when it comes to our health. They want to make this town a subject in a big experiment that stands to empty our pocketbooks, damage our tourism industry, and hurt our local businesses.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I want no part of it.
Unlike Harold Goldstein, Jeff Ritterman, and the rest of the Kick the Can crew, my livelihood is directly tied to our local economy. I know that we’re still recovering from an economic slump that brought financial hardship to many people in Telluride. This tax won’t stop consumers from drinking soda or sugar-sweetened beverages. It will only force them to make their purchases outside of town. That means lost revenue for our local businesses on top of new compliance costs in the form of more paperwork and red tape for business owners.
If 2A passes, I’m one of the people who will be left to deal with an economic mess while they fly off to another unsuspecting city or town as part of their ongoing crusade.
The last thing anyone in Telluride needs is a group of outsiders blowing into town and telling us how to live our lives. We are a unique town filled with innovative and creative people. I believe our youth would be better served by increased community involvement and sponsorship of activities, not a tax that has the potential to do more harm than good. That’s why I’m urging every resident to vote NO on Ballot Issue 2A.
– Bob Harnish