Richmond leaders hope to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in the city, and they want voters to approve a fee on local businesses' sales of those products.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider placing a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot asking voters to approve an ordinance imposing a business license fee of 1 cent per ounce of sugar-sweetened beverages sold by businesses within the city.

"It's a smart plan, and we think it's something that other cities can get on board with," said Councilman Jeff Ritterman, who has led the push for the resolution. "We want our merchants to transition toward promoting and selling more healthy products."

The measure could generate $2 million to $8 million in additional annual revenue, according to a staff report.

Tuesday's expected vote follows the council's approval last November of a measure directing staff members to craft a ballot measure imposing taxes on sugar-sweetened beverage sales.

Ritterman said the ordinance would require merchants who sell sugar-sweetened beverages or condensed syrup to monitor ounces sold per year and pay 1 cent per ounce.

"It's up to them whether to pass it on to consumers," Ritterman said.

The council will also vote on putting an advisory measure on the November ballot recommending that proceeds from the fee be directed toward sports and nutrition programs aimed at local children.

Two council members, Corky Boozé and Nat Bates, have been staunch opponents of any new tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, arguing that it will hurt local businesses and low-income consumers and have little effect on consumption.

"It's a regressive tax on poor people, and it won't change a thing in terms of what they drink," Boozé said. "We need more grocery stores and restaurants in Richmond, and Ritterman wants to add a new tax on doing business in the city."

If it passes in November, the local ordinance could be the first of its kind in the nation, Ritterman said. Ritterman added that if the council on Tuesday approves putting the ballot measure to voters in November, he will begin appealing to other municipalities in West Contra Costa County and Alameda County to consider similar legislation.

Tuesday's item continues a trend of firsts for the Richmond council. Last June, Richmond became the first city in Contra Costa County to approve municipal identification cards. Earlier this year, Richmond became the first city in California to endorse a statewide "millionaire's tax" ballot measure.

"We pride ourselves on being innovative, on being out in front," said Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, who will support Ritterman's agenda item.

IF YOU GO
What: Richmond City Council meeting
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Community Services Building, 440 Civic Center Plaza