How Is the New Surcharge on Mini Liquor Bottles Being Used?

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In 2021, Connecticut legislators enacted a five-cent surcharge on mini-alcohol bottles to combat the generation of solid waste and excessive littering, the bill states.

Towns and cities recently received their first check from the mini liquor bottle surcharge, and some have received upwards of $100,000, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

NBC Connecticut Investigates drilled down on the data and found at least two dozen municipalities with over $25,000 of surcharge money sitting idly. New Haven, Waterbury and Bridgeport collected a total of almost $200,000 yet none of them have declared plans for how they would spend that money.

“The tax is burdensome to businesses, and it’s one more example of Connecticut government nickel-and-diming its taxpayers. It is poorly thought through,” said Carol Platt Liebau, president of the Yankee Institute.

Donna Hamzy, chief strategy officer for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said a number of towns and cities are holding off until they have collected enough money to do something impactful.

However, cities like Vernon are using cleanup funds to their advantage, partnering with Opportunity Works Connecticut, which provides job experience for people with intellectual disabilities. Middletown expanded an existing program that helps collect restaurant food waste.

“We have about 35 restaurants on board. What we hope to do is increase that to about 60,” said Middletown Recycling Coordinator Kim O’Rourke. “And we hope to increase the amount of food waste that we collect.”

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