Montgomery County residents continue to face tax increases, with no end in sight. In January 2012, the county instituted a 5-cent bag tax. On the face of it, the goal of the tax is laudable—funding cleanup of streams and rivers and to encourage the use of reusable bags
We don’t need, however, the government dictating and controlling another aspect of our lives. In fact, the private sector in particular grocery stores, were already encouraging patrons to use recycled bags. Stores, such as Whole Foods, have, for some time have been using or awarding incentives to encourage customers to reuse/recycle bags. Customers receive a 5-cent credit for each bag they bring to the store.
Moreover, Whole Foods takes this program a step further by “adopting” different local nonprofit organizations, such as, the Make A Wish Foundation, giving consumers the choice of whether or not to donate their credit.
Moreover, bringing one’s bag has become the “in thing” to do as a result of increased awareness and education, which was occurring long before the County Council stepped in.
I believe the private-sector driven approach is a win-win for everyone – except for Montgomery County bureaucrats, who will spend the bulk of the money raised creating yet another government program, at a cost approximately $564,000, with $234,000 going towards administrative costs, and about $300,000 towards public education, outreach efforts and $28,000 towards the Water Quality Protection Fund. If revenues from this program fall, it is likely that the bag tax will increase—taxes never go away, they just go up.
Continued education and outreach by the private sector should be encouraged by the county; however, not in the name of a whole new program that county taxpayers can ill-afford, and at a time when they are preparing to face a new onslaught of taxes.
I am concerned about the environment, but this measure is simply not the way forward. This bag tax is punitive in nature, and it is a regressive tax on those who least can afford it. The county should be encouraging the private sector to continue to do the right thing, not punishing it.
It is time to bag the bag tax in Montgomery County.