CANANDAIGUA — A nickel saved is a nickel earned.
Ontario County shoppers likely won’t have to pay 5 cents to get a paper bag from a retailer come next March.
The county Board of Supervisors’ Planning and Environmental Quality Committee voted 7-0 Monday to opt out of the state’s 5-cents-per-bag program once the use of plastic bags ends in March 2020. That motion now goes to the full board for a final vote Thursday.
The state’s recent ban on plastic bags included the option of having consumers pay 5 cents per paper bag. The state would allow the county to keep 2 cents of that nickel to use only for the purchase of reusable cloth bags for low to moderate income households. The other 3 cents would go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.
“There are alternate ways to promote the use of reusable bags,” said Carla Jordan, director of the county’s Department of Sustainability and Solid Waste Management. “We have already distributed thousands of cloth bags at various events and we will ask for money in our budget to keep doing that,.”
Jordan said reusable bags have been given out at the recent county fair, to libraries, to citizens groups that ask and at the Department of Motor Vehicles in new resident packages, with plans to make them available at food kitchens and other locations.
“Plus, we don’t get reimbursed for any administrative costs over collections, accounting for the money and getting it to the state and accounting for how every one of the pennies we get is spent,” said Kristine Singer, R-Canadice, committee chairwoman. “I’d rather we keep buying more reusable bags and distribute them as widely as possible.”
Committee member and Seneca Supervisor Drew Wickham said the nickel charge would place a major administrative burden on small businesses.
“It could be overwhelming,” he said.
Committee member and town of Geneva Supervisor Mark Venuti questioned if the burden would be overwhelming, but he ended up voting for opt-out.
Jordan said paper bags are biodegradable, but the state’s real goal is to have everyone bring their own cloth bags with them to a store and not have the retailer provide plastic or paper bags.
In other action:
• Jordan reported that monitoring of perimeter areas of the Ontario County Landfill for hydrogen sulfide emissions will be expanded in terms of locations and testing times per day, and that testing will be required at least until the end of the year. She said she would inform the committee of results when they are available.
• An electronic waste disposal day will be conducted Oct. 19 at the county landfill in Seneca.
• By a 7-0 vote, agreed to renew a contract with the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council to monitor the lake and its tributaries for another year at a cost of $10,000.
• Amy Dill, regional engineer for Casella Waste Systems, operator of the Routes 5&20 landfill, spoke and showed photos of the construction of the landfill’s new disposal cell, including clay liners, secondary liners, geothermal layers and horizontal and “pocket” gas well construction.