The Denver City Council delayed final action on a proposal to put a 5-cent fee on plastic and paper bags.
The move came after the 13-member body heard from 22 residents during a public hearing Sept. 30.
The proposed fee would be paid by consumers at the point of checkout and would include 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. The delay came after there was some confusion on if the bill exempted fast food restaurants and with a veto threat coming from the mayor's office.
“We've been discussing this issue with councilwoman [Deborah] Ortega for more than a year … and we've shared the mayor's concerns,” Skye Stuart, legislative director for Mayor Michael Hancock said during the meeting. “[The mayor] has focused on the fee portion of it and how it would impact low-income residents and our senior citizen population. With that in mind, we've talked about how we could take the fee off the table and move forward with other options that meet the overall goal we're trying to reach.”
City analysis of the measure showed the average household, if it continued to shop as normal without reusable bags, would pay $20.80 annually in bag fees. Under the measure, stores would 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.
The City Council expects to discuss the issue again on Dec. 9.