Ft Collins, CO, Duggan: Grocery bag fee fight is far from over
Fort Collins officials have been talking about implementing a fee on disposable grocery bags for about two years.
Economically right or wrong, environmentally sound or not, the idea seemed to be on solid footing after so much discussion between city staff and City Council.
Public outreach on the proposal included the usual efforts, including forums and opportunities to post comment about the idea online.
But serious controversy about a proposed 10-cent fee (some argue tax) on paper and plastic grocery bags erupted after the council finally acted July 1 and passed the enabling ordinance on a 5-2 vote.
Residents who seemingly were taken by surprise have been reacting ever since, with the most vocal responses coming from opponents.
They’ve raised some interesting issues and successfully gotten the attention of council members, who last week voted unanimously to put off final reading of the ordinance to Aug. 19.
The purpose of the delay is to gather more public input and answer the public’s questions, even though it would seem city staff members have answered those questions before.
A list of frequency asked questions, or FAQs, is on the city’s website, www.fcgov.com/recycling/plasticbags.php.
Before taking up the issue again, the council might have a public Q&A session, similar to the facilitated session that was done before the final vote on the Foothills Mall deal, to address concerns. There might be more than one such session.
If that is the case, don’t be surprised if the issue gets extended beyond Aug. 19. Delay is a typical response from the council when it encounters significant pushback on an idea.
Another response is to amend ordinances on second reading with ideas that haven’t necessarily been fully aired. Sometimes a permanent program turns into a pilot program.
Will any of this make a difference? Counting heads, the vote is still 4-3 in favor of the fee even if Council member Gino Campana changes his mind. But lots of other changes are possible.
Whatever happens, getting to a final result is going to take more time.
Kevin Duggan is a senior reporter. Follow him at Coloradoan Kevin Duggan on Facebook or @coloradoan_dugg on Twitter.