On Tuesday night, the Niagara County Legislature voted unanimously against a state paper bag tax that would be imposed in March of next year with the beginning of the plastic bag ban.
In the 2019-20 fiscal year, the New York state budget authorized local governments to enforce a 5-cent paper bag tax, with revenue divided up where 3 cents are distributed to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund and the other 2 cents to the municipality.
Legislators said the state’s ban on plastic grocery bags would force residents to pay for paper bags or re-use their own bags on grocery store visits.
The reasoning behind the decision by the Niagara County Legislature to oppose the paper bag tax is based on the fact New York state is already one of the highest-taxed states in the country. Legislators said imposing a new tax would place an additional financial burden on Niagara County families.
“At a time when so many families are struggling to make ends meet, the last thing we need is another tax every time we head to the grocery store. I was proud to introduce this resolution, and I will continue to stand up for taxpayers,” said Legislator Jesse Gooch, R-Wheatfield/North Tonawanda.
With the legislation’s supporters touting the new tax as a step in the right direction and progress, its opponents consider it to be quite the opposite.
“The tax on paper carryout bags is more so a regressive move. It will wrongly penalize a recyclable good that can be easily processed at recovery facilities. The state-required fee will generate profits at the expense of shoppers, adversely impacting low-income individuals,” said Niagara County Legislature Chairman Wm. Keith McNall, R- Lockport.
New York will only be the third state with a ban on plastic bags, following California, which started its ban in 2016, as well as Hawaii.