An area city councilman this week indicated he would vote “No” next week on a bill which would place a 10-cent fee on all disposable plastic and paper bags in convenience stores, supermarkets and other establishments.
The bill before the council is said to not be a ban on the bags, but aimed at decreasing use.
City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) on Tuesday night told his constituents at the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic meeting that he sees the fee as just another tax on shoppers.
“I’m not voting for this,” he declared. “I have an obligation to tell you where I stand on the issues. I don’t want to tax people.”
Instead, Ulrich proposed that anyone who brings a reusable, cloth shopping bag to use at a store should be given a 10-cent discount.
“We should incentivize,” he said, before adding that he viewed the bill as “a waste of our time”.
“Is it not important? No,” Ulrich continued. “But is it high on the list? No.”
While he understands the bill’s environmental impact, Ulrich called the fee a “backdoor tax” that unfairly punishes hard-working shoppers.
“That’s not how you change behavior,” he said. “You’re nickel and diming people, literally.”
According to published reports, the additional revenue collected from the fee would go to the storeowners. This week, California became the first state to outright ban plastic bags and charge 10 cents for paper ones.
By Michael V. Cusenza