The 'bottle tax' is killing Baltimore's independent grocery stores [Letter]

Your story about the closure of the last Stop Shop Save grocery stores in Baltimore is yet another sad example of why the city should move to repeal the bottle tax ("Stop Shop Save to close remaining Baltimore locations," July 22).

The bottle tax is hurting independent grocery stores like Stop Shop Save. This legislation, which exists nowhere else in the country, has made it nearly impossible for city-based grocers to compete with stores across the county line that don't have to pay the tax.

The beverage container tax was increased on July 1, 2013, by 3 cents for every bottle and can of water, iced tea, soft drinks and juices. That followed a 2-cent beverage container tax levied in 2010 that was supposed to be temporary.

The tax has driven up the price of a 12-pack of beverages by an additional 60 cents and increased the cost of a case by $1.20. Now scores of hardworking families who patronized Stop Shop Save will have to travel further to find food, while the closure of Stop Shop Save threatens to expand Baltimore City's food desert.

Honestly, how does the city expect to attract new grocery stores or save its current ones with this discriminatory tax burden in place? City leaders should immediately work to repeal the regressive bottle tax or prepare themselves for further closures.

Jeffrie Zellmer, Annapolis

The writer is vice president for government and community affairs of the Maryland Retailers Association.

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