Baltimore City Ratifies Two Cent Bottle Tax, Effective July 25

On June 24, the Baltimore City Council passed a bottle tax that will add two cents to some bottled beverages bought in the city.

The law, which takes effect July 25, is designed to sunset in three years. The tax, projected to raise about $5.7 million, applies to bottled drinks of less than two liters, with the exception of some juices.

The original proposal, which included a four cent tax per bottle, was rejected. However, the revised version of the container tax passed by a vote of 8-4. The battle over the tax lasted about two months and required three ballots. The bill passed on the third try with the minimum number of votes required for passage.

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Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the tax will prevent the city from cutting back on street cleaning, graffiti removal and trash skimming in the Inner Harbor.

“I believe our city can emerge from this challenging time better, safer and stronger,” she said in a statement released after the vote.

Several Baltimore retailers worked to defeat the legislation, without success. The Maryland Retailers Association led the lobbying campaign against the bill.

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The original four cent bill was killed with a 7-7 tied vote. City Council members Warren Branch and Helen Holton were against the bill in the first vote, but Holton voted for the amended bill since she proposed the changes.

Branch and Councilman Bill Henry were on vacation for the meeting, and Council President Jack Young abstained from the vote, claiming a conflict of interest.