Cook County soda tax to take effect Wednesday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Starting Wednesday, consumers can expect to pay more for sugary drinks in Cook County. The penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks will be added to the price of most bottled and fountain drinks.

It's become known as the "soda tax," but the sugary drink tax covers more than just soda. With the exception of water, most bottle beverages like sports drinks, coffee, iced tea, and juices have added sugar or artificial sweeteners in them.

"Almost everything has sugar. There is almost nothing that is pure people are going to look and say, what's this 20 cent tax," said Saif Masoud, from South Loop Market.

Masoud manages one of eight South Loop Markets in Chicago. Tuesday, he was getting ready for Wednesday when cash registers will need to be programmed for the added charge. The 12-pack of soda that costs $6.49 will have an extra $1.40 added to it, and that's before the sales tax.

"We're a family, we drink soda occasionally," said Paul Manzano, a shopper. "It might make us cut down or maybe we'll start shopping outside of Cook County."

The tax, on hold for a month after a judge granted a temporary restraining order, was expected to bring in $68 million through the end of 2017. To fill the hole created by the last 30 days, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle ordered 10 percent cuts across the board.

Those cuts led to the Cook County Sheriff's Office laying off 300 people, mostly corrections officers, who they now hope to be able to call back.

"We've agreed to take furlough days, the upper level like myself," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. "Combined with a few other things we should be able to pull back on most if not all of the layoffs that we've put through."

Dart said he's still waiting to hear whether the layoffs can be rescinded and should know by the end of the week. Dart said he hopes the 2018 budget won't be affected because the revenue from the tax, which goes into effect, was already built in.

Late Tuesday, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association said they filed an appeal to a court ruling that allowed the tax to go into place.

County officials said the new tax is needed to pay for services and should, over time, improve public health as some people use it as incentive to stay away from sugary drinks.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.