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Queens Chronicle

Candidate slams grocery bag fee

Craig Caruana says charge is unfair to small businesses in area

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:59 am, Thu Sep 5, 2013.

Republican City Council candidate Craig Caruana is calling the sitting members out for the recently proposed bag fee.

“In the latest move to pull the bag over the eyes of the middle class of our city, some Council members propose a ‘charge’ or ‘fee’ on all bags in grocery stores,” Caruana said in a release. “It’s essentially a tax, no matter what semantic game they play. It’s a compulsory charge, forced by the government, to make people conform to what the elites think is important.

“This might be fine for the wealthy elite, who have the luxury of being concerned about what’s fashionable,” he said. “For the hard-working, middle-class families in our district, it’s yet another expense that stretches our budgets even further.”

On Monday, the Middle Village resident running against incumbent Elizabeth Crowley for the 30th Council District seat gathered with community members to protest the proposal on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale.

“The small stores will suffer most, since corporate chain stores can more easily lower their prices to compensate for the fee and keep their customers,” Caruana said. “As always, the city would hit small business owners the hardest.”

Caruana slammed Crowley for her support of the proposal.

“My opponent is in favor of this misguided bill,” he said. “We keep paying more and more and get the worst return on our tax money in the city. The theme of her time in office is ever-increasing taxes and abysmal funding.”

Crowley could not comment on the matter but her spokesman Eric Yun offered the following statement on her behalf:

“New York City currently uses more than 5 billion plastic bags annually that clog our streets and landfills, which costs the city $10 million to remove. This is a smart policy that will improve our environment and save the city money that can be spent addressing quality-of-life sanitation issues, and similar laws across the country have shown great success in reducing plastic bag use without negatively impacting consumers or retail stores.”

Caruana insists that the proposal unfairly favors higher-income families who are more likely to use reusable bags.

“If you’re just running to the store from work or you need to pick something up really quick, you aren’t going to have those bags with you so why should you have to pay the price for that?” Caruana asked. “Besides, there have been a number of studies that show these reusable bags aren’t as safe as they are being made out to be.”

The candidate said many people do not clean their bags regularly, resulting in bacteria buildup that can be unhealthy. He also added that the city would be using resident tax dollars to enforce the policy which he deemed unacceptable.

“This will be another tax on small businesses,” he said. “The law would be enforced by the Department of Consumer Affairs and would allow businesses an initial warning before they could incur a $250 fine for not charging a customer for a bag. A third offense could yield a $500 fine. Do you really want the city spending your tax dollars enforcing this?”

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