Foe of Basalt bag fee will start collecting signatures
October 22, 2011
BASALT – A Basalt man will start collecting signatures Saturday for a petition designed to overturn the Town Council’s decision to charge a 20-cent fee on paper and plastic grocery bags starting in May.
The proposed petition submitted to the town by Roy Chorbajian was certified as valid Friday afternoon by town clerk Pam Schilling. Chorbajian now has 90 days to collect signatures from 231 registered Basalt voters.
Once he turns in the petitions, Chorbajian wants the council to rescind the bag fee or put the issue before voters. He said he believes he will have little trouble collecting the signatures. “People are just disgruntled” with the council’s decision, he said.
“People on the local and national level are fed up with over-regulation,” Chorbajian said. He said he believes the councils of Basalt and Aspen, which approved a plastic bag ban this month, are in “ideological straight-jackets.”
“It’s like talking to a brick wall,” he said. He wants to send the councils a message.
Basalt Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt credited Chorbajian with getting involved in government.
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“I feel the council went down the right road,” Whitsitt said. “However, I totally support the citizens’ right to the initiative process. I think if the guy can get it on the ballot, that’s great.”
She said she’s heard comments on both sides of the issue since the council approved the fee on Sept. 27, but many of the people in her circle of friends are like-minded, she said. She said she doesn’t know how the bag fee would fare in a general election, but noted nearly all Basalt council members were voted in on “a liberal agenda.”
The council approved the bag fee on a 6-1 vote. Mayor Leroy Duroux opposed the fee. He said Friday that Chorbajian had a right to try to change the decision.
“This is going to put it to bed, one way or another,” Duroux said.
Schilling said the issue may be added to the town’s next scheduled election in April or be held on a special date, depending on whether Chorbajian turns in enough signatures and when.
Chorbajian said he plans to start collecting signatures outside of El Jebeverage, located next to what’s known as the El Jebel City Market, which is really in Basalt.
He said the council had plenty of issues to debate without considering a fee on grocery bags. “It’s just something that shouldn’t be touched,” he said.