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City Leaders Spar Over Location Of Beverage Tax Revenue

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia's city controller is raising concerns about the location of $62.9 million in tax revenue collected from a city beverage tax.

The Philadelphia beverage tax went into effect in January 2017. City records show $84.7 million is in the bank from the tax. Of that number, $62.9 million is sitting in the city's general fund. City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, a Democrat is concerned about the location of the tax money.

"I think the fact it's just flowing into the general fund and not being spent on those programs is concerning," Rhynhart told Eyewitness News.

Rhynhart took office in January and promised to hold the city accountable during the campaign. She wants the money from the tax to be in a special account, to keep it safe.

Councilman David Oh, an opponent of the tax also prefers a separate account.

"It would be wiser and better for the public if you segregated that money out of the general fund into a fund that if you need to pay this money back you'll have it sitting there and it's not so easy to spend it," Oh said.

Mayor Jim Kenney says not to worry, the money in the general fund is no secret. He says because of the pending lawsuit involving the tax, the money has to remain in the general fund and can't be spent until the suit is over.

"It can't be in a separate segregated fund the charter doesn't permit it. The money is there. We know where it's at, we can count and when we get the approval from the court we will ramp up and spend the money," Kenney told Eyewitness News.

Oh and Rhynart both agree nothing improper has been done with the money, they just want it to be in a separate account where it can be used for other purchases. The mayor insists the money is safe in the general fund.

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