Winter Park passes 20-cent disposable bag fee | SkyHiNews.com

Winter Park passes 20-cent disposable bag fee

The Winter Park Town Council unanimously approved a 20-cent disposable bag fee following a public hearing at their regular meeting Tuesday night.

The fee, which applies to all retailers and grocers with some exceptions, is set to go into effect July 1. The ordinance was crafted after Fraser's, which passed in 2018.

Exceptions include certain types of reusable bags, such as produce bags and pharmacy bags, as well as certain vendors, like restaurants, temporary vendors and businesses where retail sales are secondary to the primary business, such as salons.

The funds collected from the fee will be split between the town and the businesses. Winter Park will get 60 percent of the funds to use for implementing the fee and other sustainability initiatives, while businesses will keep 40 percent of the revenue for the cost of implementing the fee.

One distinction from the Fraser ordinance is Winter Park makes an exemption for customers using food assistance programs, who will not be charged the fee.

During the public hearing, one Winter Park resident raised concerns about the fee going overboard and punishing visitors.

"I'm trying to think about who's impacted by this, it's tourists, who come here and are already paying an enormous tax, I think more than every other ski area in the state," the resident said.

However, other public comments were supportive. Keith Bellfi, a buyer for Fireside Market and Eatery in Winter Park and for Breckenridge Market and Liquor, said the store's sister location in Breckenridge has seen success with the town's 10-cent bag fee and it hasn't been disruptive for customers.

"It works very well. It causes the streets to not get cluttered by tourists that do litter and don't take care of the precious places we call home," Bellfi said. "At the Breckenridge store, we actually (offer) boxes that people can use for free if they don't want to pay the 10-cent bag fee."

The ordinance does require businesses to put up signage notifying customers of the charge and the town plans to educate residents and visitors through signage and promotional efforts, such as working with the Winter Park – Fraser Chamber of Commerce to potentially get branded reusable bags into rental properties.

Catherine Ross, executive director of the chamber, said they will work closely with town staff to put together a marketing and education outreach program that works for businesses.

"I think (the fee) does send a good message about who we are as a community," Ross said.

Winter Park Resort will also begin educating guests about the fee come this spring, said Steve Hurlbert, director of public relations and communications for the resort.

Hurlbert said it won't be a hassle for the resort to charge the fee since many purchases at the resort are bagless because the items will be used right away, like ski goggles or a facemask.

"One of our core values here is sustainability, so obviously we applaud the actions the council took last night and we will be in compliance," Hurlbert said.

The ordinance also requires the council to review it after one year to see how it's impacting the community and whether it's effective.

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