Scottsdale City Council Postpones Food Tax Vote

Published: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 1:10pm
Christina Estes/KJZZ
A city council report said the food tax on home consumption costs the average family of two adults and two young kids $225.18 a year based on January 2020 USDA data.

Scottsdale leaders could have abolished a food tax Tuesday night but instead the council voted 4-3 to push the discussion down the road. Economic uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus was used to argue both sides.

Scottsdale shoppers who buy milk, eggs and other items to consume at home pay the same tax rate as those who buy clothes and cars. When David Smith was a council member five years ago, he proposed eliminating the tax. On Tuesday night, he returned as a private citizen to ask again. 

“This is a time in my opinion to show leadership on behalf of our citizens,” he said. “We may not be able to protect them but we can certainly avoid hurting them. Hurting them with the most punitive tax that any city could impose on its citizens.”  

Eliminating the 1.75% tax rate would save a family of two adults and two young kids an estimated $225.18 per year, according to a city report. It would also require the city to remove about $8 million from revenue projections made before the pandemic, according to City Treasurer Jeff Nichols, and that was Councilwoman Solange Whitehead’s point.    

“States, cities and the nation are setting aside reserve funds to make sure that the many people who will not have paychecks, will have services, will have food. This is not a normal time, “ she said. 

Whitehead joined the majority of her colleagues to support a motion made by Councilwoman Linda Milhaven to continue it to a future date “when we can have more active participation from the citizens and our discussion.

Members who supported the motion were Milhaven, Whitehead, Kathy Littlefield and Virginia Korte. Members who opposed the motion to continue were Mayor Jim Lane, Suzanne Klapp and Guy Phillips.

No date has been set to revisit the food tax.

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