Montgomery County Executive and MACo Board Member Isiah Leggett is proposing a five cent fee to consumers who use paper or plastic bags at county grocery stores. The proposal, which will be officially announced on Monday, will not only serve as a green initiative, but also as a revenue source. The Gazette reports:
Leggett said it is the first time a county bag “tax” has been proposed. The County Council, which has final fiscal authority, will vote on whether to implement the fee.
Leggett is proposing that it take effect Jan. 1, after an educational campaign that would include the distribution of free cloth bags.
He expects the county would raise about $1 million from the 5-cent charge in the first year — most of which he said would go toward the purchase of reusable bags for customers and to informing residents about the change.
A penny from the tax would go to stores for taking part in the program, and the remainder would go to the county.
A similar initiative, sponsored by Delegate Alfred C. Carr Jr., is being considered by the General Assembly that would impose a five cent state tax on grocery bags.
If both the county and state efforts are approved, the state would either charge the tax or would allow the county to implement its own tax. Customers will not be charged two bags fees.
Leggett said he might support a state bill that would not charge the county money and would incorporate aspects similar to the county proposal, such as free cloth bags.
A majority of the County Council said Monday it did not support a provision in Carr’s bill that would ban counties from implementing their own bag taxes for five years after the state bag tax is implemented. They said the county was considering its own fee within that time frame.