City Council subcommittee to find panel of experts to help implement Measure D

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Mayor Tom Bates appointed a subcommittee Nov. 18 to help implement Measure D, the voter-approved tax on sugar-sweetened beverages that passed with a 76.17 percent vote in the Nov. 4 election.

The new four-person subcommittee includes Councilmembers Max Anderson, Laurie Capitelli, Linda Maio and Darryl Moore. The subcommittee will create an application to send out to local experts in education-, health- and nutrition-related fields. Once selected, applicants will constitute an panel of experts that will then determine how the new tax revenue will be used. The members of the panel will be decided by City Council.

Capitelli, who chairs the subcommittee, said the application for the panel is currently being designed and will be uploaded online. The application will ask whether or not the candidate has experience participating in community-based programs or research, in addition to asking for personal information.

According to Capitelli, the panel will consider each applicant and then confirm his or her experience and qualifications, but City Council will ultimately make the final appointments. Nine individuals will be selected.

Capitelli said the makeup of the panel will be finalized by mid-February. The panel’s biggest area of responsibility, he said, is recommending how the tax money should be spent by looking at the city’s expenditures. The panel will also give annual reports.

“If we are spending money somewhere and it isn’t effective, we want to spend it somewhere else,” Capitelli said.

Charles Burress, a spokesperson for the mayor, said Bates specifically chose the four council members to serve on the subcommittee because of their activism in the campaign for Measure D and their strong expressed interest in the tax. Maio and Capitelli both served on the Healthy Children’s Coalition.

The passage of Measure D made Berkeley the first city in the nation to implement a “soda tax,” that taxes 1 cent per ounce on the distributors of most sugar-sweetened beverages.

Roger Salazar, spokesperson for the No on D campaign, said that there is no restriction on what the city can choose to do with the funds and that the tax was written without any real thought on how it would be put into effect or whom it would impact.

“It is clear they really don’t have a plan on how they wanted to implement this tax,” Salazar said. “We will see what they end up doing, but because there is no restriction on how they use these funds, there isn’t really anything anyone can do but get angry about it.”

The soda tax will be implemented at the beginning of 2015.

Contact Robert Tooke at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @robertono_t.