On August 23rd, 2011, the Town Council of Basalt, Colorado, USA, voted 5-1 to pass the first reading of an ordinance placing a fee on single-use bags. Known as the Waste Reduction Bag Fee, the Town Manager is responsible for implementing the new ordinance.
Basalt is located in the Roaring Fork Valley region of Colorado's western mountains. Basalt is concurring with the cities of Aspen and Carbondale to pass an ordinance identical to others in the Valley so that plastic bag regulation will be consistent within the region.
At the last meeting, Aspen (met Sept. 12) and Carbondale (met Sept. 13) both postponed the final vote on the second reading to study the possibility of a complete ban on plastic bags and place a fee on paper bags. It isn't known yet if the city of Basalt will follow their action.
The ordinance, as written, states that a Town fee will be imposed and required to be paid by each consumer making a purchase from a Basalt business subject to the fee for each disposable carryout bag used during the purchase.
Mayor Leroy Duroux stated that he "felt it boiled down to a bunch of elected official telling him what he could and could not do. It’s probably the right thing to do, but why aren’t the businesses being encouraged to adopt business plans such as Whole Foods and Costco. Why aren’t we working it that way rather than by government."
In reply, Councilor Adams said, "That’s what government does – they pass ordinances." Councilor Kane said he thought the philosophical foundation for this was that government intervenes when private markets fail to perform.
Councilor McBride thought the single use bags were a bad habit and government telling us what to do was the best way to handle this issue. Mr. McBride said he would love to see it be voluntary, but he didn’t think that was working. He spoke of one store that had banned bags, but he didn’t see any of the other stores following suit.
At the end of the discussion, Councilor Whitsitt made a motion to pass the ordinance on the first reading. Councilor Schwoerer seconded the motion. The motion passed with the Mayor as the only dissenting vote.