Denver moving ahead with grocery bag fee

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Officials in Denver gave the initial go-ahead for a 5-cent fee on plastic and paper bags.

The City Council passed the measure on first reading 7-6, and postponed the public hearing one week so it won’t conflict with a Monday Night Football game featuring the Denver Broncos. The hearing, and final vote is scheduled for Sept. 30.

“[Sept. 23] is a Monday night Bronco night, and a lot of people don’t like to be down here on Bronco nights,” said council member Deborah Ortega, who has pushed for the bill.

The fee would be charged to customer at the point of checkout and includes food stores that are 1,500 square feet or larger and receives more than 2 percent of its revenue for the sales of meats, produce, dairy products or other perishable items.

Stores will retain 2 cents of the fee, and 3 cents will go toward the city to pay for the mitigation of the impact of bags in Denver.

The city estimates it will earn $1.6 million in revenue from the measure, which it will use for education and reusable bags to be given to lower-income residents.

Denver’s proposal passed the city’s Health, Safety, Education and Services Committee on Aug. 20.

Support for the measure was split with several members speaking out against it, saying the city’s mayor has as well.

“I think it’s economic folly for us to have a bag fee, and other [nearby communities] do not,” said council member Jeanne Faatz. “I don’t think we should have governmental intervention here.”