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Judge: Aspen's 20-Cent Paper Bag Charge Is A Fee

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — Aspen's 20-cent charge for paper bags at grocery stores is a fee, not a tax, and can remain in place, a state judge ruled Monday.

Aspen implemented the fee when it banned plastic bags in 2012. District Judge John Neiley ruled Monday that the charge is a fee and not a tax and can remain in place. The Colorado Union of Taxpayers challenged it, saying it was a new tax that had to be approved by voters under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

The Aspen Daily News reports that District Judge John Neiley ruled that its purpose is to encourage people to use reusable bags, not raise revenue to support government. He said that if the fee is successful, revenue from paper bag sales will continue to decline.

Neiley added that the court's job wasn't to "decide what is reasonable or resolve issues that are inherently political" in a 24-page order that followed a hearing in Glenwood Springs last week.

The decision comes as Fort Collins is considering charging shoppers for using any kind of disposable bag.

The Coloradoan reports that city councilors are scheduled to vote Aug. 19 on a proposal to charge a 10-cent fee on bags at grocery stores. However, some councilors are considering an option that would allow more retailers to participate and decide whether and how much to charge per bag. Under that alternative, stores would get to keep the proceeds of bag fees, which could be phased out after two years.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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