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Columbia County still undecided on nickel fee for paper bags

Feb 04, 2020 11:51 pm
Sarah Taddeo and Chad Arnold report for LoHud.com that about half of local counties are in and half have opted out of a five-cent charge for paper bags when a ban on plastic bags becomes effective statewide March 1. Ulster and Albany counties are taking the revenue, while Greene and Dutchess County are not. Columbia County is undecided, and Rensselaer County did not respond to the reporters. Counties can force retailers to charge a nickel per paper bag, and split the revenue. But in counties that opt-out consumers are generally still paying the nickel, as Price Chopper and other retailers say they will charge a nickel for paper bags themselves. So in Greene and Dutchess counties the stores keep all the money, and in Ulster and Albany county two cents from each bag goes towards a program to distribute reusable bags, and three cents go to the state's Environmental Protection Fund. But many counties believe they would be best suited to decide where the money is used. “We’d like to be able to use some of that money for other environmental recycling needs,” said David Bliss, chairman of Otsego County’s Board of Supervisors, as recycling costs have skyrocketed in recent years. “We’re doing all the work, and the state’s getting most of the money.” Read more about this story at the LoHud.com website.