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Plastic Bag Tax Toted as Potential Revenue Raiser

By DNAinfo Staff on April 5, 2011 5:33pm

Tax on plastic bags proposed as one potential money-making idea.
Tax on plastic bags proposed as one potential money-making idea.
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Flickr/Urban Woodswalker

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — How would you like to pay for disposable plastic shopping bags? Or maybe shell out cash for a ticket on the Staten Island Ferry once again?

Those are just two money-making ideas floated by the city's Independent Budget Office in its latest brainstorming effort on ways to reduce spending and raise revenue as the city struggles to find ways to close a multi-billion-dollar budget deficit.

The IBO estimates, for instance, that a proposal to charge shoppers a 6-cent tax for single-use plastic bags — a charge that has already been implemented in cities including Washington D.C. and had previously been suggested by the mayor — could generate $94 million a year.

In place of laying off teachers, the IBO suggested eliminating public schools' parent coordinator position, which the agency says would save the city $87 million.

Instead of closing fire companies at night, IBO suggests building a waste-to-energy plant it estimates could save $29 million a year beginning in 2019.

"Although New York City’s tax revenues may have started to rebound from the recession, the city still faces significant budget challenges," IBO Director Ronnie Lowenstein said in a statement.

Other suggestions that have been suggested again include eliminating citywide run-off elections, replacing late-night Staten Island ferry service with buses, charging for garbage collection, putting a tax on sugary drinks, and encouraging teachers to serve jury duty over the summer break

The IBO stressed that it does not endorse any of the proposed ideas.

A spokesman for the mayor did not weigh in on specific ideas, but noted that implementing any of the major suggestions would require state approval.

The mayor has been lobbying in favor of some of the ideas in recent months, including community-based alternatives to the state’s juvenile justice system and pension reforms for city workers.