Vote ‘No’ on the Telluride Beverage Tax
by Bob Harnish
Oct 13, 2013 | 1879 views | 4 4 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print


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

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

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October 18, 2013
Crpage, you're wise beyond your years. Wonderful, well thought out comment.

Prettyplease, once again, here is the ordinance language describing exactly what the funds will be earmarked for.

Section 12- Creation of the Fund.

There is hereby created the Telluride Children’s Health and Physical Activity Fund. This is a separate fund of the Town; moneys deposited into this Fund shall be recorded and accounted for separate and apart from all other Town funds, and shall not be intermingled or mixed with general or other tax revenues. All revenues from the SSB tax, minus 10% for administrative costs and 10% to be retained by compliant Retailers, shall go to this Fund.

Section 13- Allocation of Money.

Programs to be funded by revenues from the SSB tax:

1. 40 %- Scholarships for extracurricular physical activity programs.

The scholarships shall be granted based on a combination of merit and need as demonstrated by each individual applicant. Examples of activities and programs that the scholarship shall be provided for are: ski club, telluride academy, parks and recreation, karate, soccer club, telluride athletics, gymnastics, and more.

2. 20 %- After school programs involving physical activity.

The after-school and outdoor programs shall be run by teachers and be available to kindergarten through sixth grade Telluride children.

3. 20 %- Gardening programs.

Various studies have demonstrated a link between increased gardening and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Gardening increases children’s vegetable consumption, including improved recognition of, attitudes toward, preferences for, and willingness to taste vegetables. Gardening also increases the variety of vegetables eaten. Kids who are involved in the process of growing their own food are ninety percent (90%) more likely to eat it.

All monies collected from the SSB tax will first be collected into the Town General Fund and then be allocated to the Telluride Children’s Health and Physical Activity Fund and distributed to the Committee
October 23, 2013
Bridget , WHO makes the list ? Baby formula was ON the list , now it is not. Whom is in charge of the list ? New products come out everyday,company's change drinks from 12 to ten ounces , who makes the list ?

Let's say A soda canister is supposed to get around 350 drinks,what about shrinkage,spilled product and loss ? A beer keg can have 25 percent loss by not getting all the product out of the keg. So a soda canister will be pre taxed per soda ? Not actual ounce sales ?after the ice is in the glass how many ounces of product is taxed ?the proposal of taxing imagined sales,100% tax on a product hope that 100% will be sold !in actualality there is only u of the canister is sold ? How about the customer who pays for 12 ounces of tax ,when they actually had 6 oz of product and the rest ice ?or be the customer who says no ice and is charged for 12 oz when they really consumed 15 ounces ?

Arrest the fat guy ?or the business owner ?what are the noncompliance fines and punishments ?probation for selling sugar with the wrong tax amount ?how about fines that go directly to kICk ?

Vote no

October 17, 2013
Bob in response to your letter,

I am an enrolled Senior at Telluride High School, and also one of the few avid conservatives in the Telluride community. I am also a member of the Kick the Can crew, aiding its passage. So your claim that the Sugar Tax people are all "outsiders" is completely false and incorrect. In fact the idea was generated by a Telluride local. In my personal opinion, having seen what the PEP grant has done for the school community, I am in full support of Kick the Can. Even though, in any other larger scale circumstance, I would be in complete opposition of ANY extra taxes, this tax is generated by our community and benefits our community directly. Other excise taxes, like this, on a nation level can generate huge returns, but by the time they "trickle down" have minimal effects on small communities like ours. A perfect example is Amendment 66 and the proposition to propose an excise tax on the newly regulated commercial sale of marijuana. This new tax, while generating billions for schools, will actually have little to no impact on the Telluride School District because of our size.

The PEP grant has also single-handedly kept the Ski P.E. program at the R-1 School district alive. For any that aren't familiar with this program, it allows students of all ages to engage in on the mountain group ski lessons counting as a physical education credit, required by the state of Colorado. PEP has stepped up to the plate in order to provide other opportunities to students besides skiing. This aids the large amount of lower income families who can't afford a ski pass for their child. The PEP grant, without question, should be a continuing aspect of this already advanced community and I believe without the constant and reliable source such as an excise tax this goal simply is not a reality.

Please consider the benefits over the costs to local businesses, because they are at most minimal to none with the required 10% tax reimbursement, and vote YES to 2A!
October 18, 2013
Sorry crpage you can pin any label you want onto yourself,but an avid conservative you are not.

I ,and my kids went thru telluride school,way back in the olden days we had ski PE .if the program flounders it is the schools administrations fault,not the PEP grant running out

What the high school needs is an economic reasoning class. In that class one would learn that taxes have an earmark, like the pot tax. The KICK club tax has no earmark, and the money can be spent on ANYTHING. The law does not earmark ANY TAX DOLLARS to any kids program!they can spend our tax dollars anywhere they want ,such as salaries for program directors!or donations to the community garden. There is no guarantee the money will be spent on even one child ,after the directors and employees are paid.

Please get a job at the grocery or a restaurant and you,ll see the cost of doing business in Telluride is hard enough,with out a soda tax .

The gap between the haves and have nots has gotten greater with" trickle down" economics, it does not work. And taxing peoples bad food choices for a trickle down won't work.they already shop in Montrose ,just like my family and yours.