By Jackie Camer
For The Diamondback
The College Park City Council voted Tuesday to send a letter in support of Prince George’s County’s efforts to pass a tax on disposable bags.
The county hopes to pass a 5 cent tax on disposable plastic bags, hoping it will sway customers to bring reusable bags. This proposal is the county’s attempt in finding options to decrease the amount of disposable plastic bags, which often wind up in city streets and rivers.
For years the county has been trying to pass a tax on disposable bags, but has been unable to do so.
However in the last few years, neighboring jurisdictions including Montgomery County and Washington, D.C., passed similar plastic bag taxes. The efforts to implement this fee are different for Prince George’s County as this county requires approval from the Maryland General Assembly or voters before passing any new property tax laws.
Patrick Wojahn, the city’s mayor, said another reason for the delay is due to a misunderstanding behind the implementation the law.
“The intention is reduce plastic bag use, not to collect money,” Wojahn said.
Wojahn said he has high hopes for the county after seeing the law’s implementation in Montgomery County and D.C.
“We are looking forward to joining Montgomery County and Washington, D.C., in reducing our plastic bag usage,” he said.
Not everyone is behind the proposal. Freshman Jack Rickey, a physics major, said he believes this tax would hurt those already struggling to afford groceries and other items.
“It is theft to charge those people who don’t have money then additional money to pay for a plastic bag,” Rickey said.
District 3 Councilman John Rigg recognized this concern, but also noted the extra money wouldn’t be too much of a burden for many families. However, Rigg said he hoped the city would provide reusable bags for those unable to afford them.
“By providing a reusable bag,” Rigg said. “It would encourage those to be conscious about using a plastic bag.”
Other critics of the proposed tax say it wouldn’t be effective in eliminating littering. Freshman Dustin Cloutier, a finance major, said he understands the purpose of the law, but said it’s not realistic to charge consumers for plastic bags when there are so many of them.
“If they are really trying to get plastic bags out of our streets and rivers, the city should just ban them, because that would ultimately end the problem,” Cloutier said.