City Councilman wants to sack plans for 10 cent plastic bag fee

Bag it!

East Bronx Councilman Jimmy Vacca wants to sack environmentally-targeted legislation proposed in the City Council that would limit the use of plastic bags by puttingg a 10 cent tax on each bag.

Vacca said he is fielding complaints from constituents who are concerned about the extra cost for every trip they make to a supermarket, deli, fruit market or drug store.

“I think that the whole plan is nothing but another hidden tax, a way to take money from people, many of whom can least afford it,” he said. “That 10 cents can add up, and sometimes the bags are so cheap that they have to double bag. This just hits consumers where it hurts.”

Brooklyn Councilman Mark Lander and Manhattan Councilwoman Margaret Chin introducted the proposed legislation on Wednesday, March 26.

Wrong way to go

While Vacca said it would be desirable to limit the use of plastic bags, he feels their particular legislation is the wrong way to go, and will help propose an alternate plan.

It hits vulnerable groups, he noted, like senior citizens who may be living on fixed incomes.

Country Club resident Joseph Coco said that he believes that the proposal will give city residents who live close to suburban counties another reason to leave the city and shop elsewhere, leading to a decline in tax receipts.

Bad for business

“We are already scaring people away by having them pay 25 cents for 15 minutes for meters, and having them be concerned about getting a ticket,” said Coco. “Now you are going to tax their bags and it is going to wind up making it worse for the businesses.”

Fellow Country Club resident Victor DiPierro felt bad for people on fixed incomes and those on tight budgets.

“Think of all of the seniors who go shopping – they are paying top dollar now for milk, bread, and other necessities, and now they have to pay 10 cents for a plastic bag to bring it home in,” he said. “Where do you draw the line?”

According to Vacca, he fully understands that plastic bags are not good for the environment, but will look into creating alternative legislation to encourage recycling and reuse without this 10 cent charge.

But, Vacca wondered what will be taxed next.

“What’s next, the air we breathe?” he said. “Maybe we should not inhale too deeply.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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