The Suffolk County Legislature Tuesday postponed voting on a bill that would require more retailers to put a price label on almost every item they sell or potentially face fines up to $1,000.
The legislature voted Tuesday to table the bill, which was proposed by County Executive Steve Bellone. It would expand the scope of an existing law, which requires some stores in the county to individually price products on their shelves, from canned vegetables to cleaning products.
The law currently applies to stores including supermarkets, drugstores, and hardware, paint, beauty, and pet and office supply stores. The new bill would expand the requirement to stores such as sporting goods, electronics and clothing stores.
Generally, it applies to stores with annual sales exceeding $3 million.
A potential vote on the bill has been put off to the legislature’s next meeting on March 7 in Riverhead.
Under the current law, retailers that fail to comply with the law face fines of $50 to $1,000 per violation.
To avoid the fines, retailers can choose to sign up for the county’s “voluntary waiver program,” under which they pay an annual fee to be exempt from the requirement. Fees range from $500 to $15,000, depending on the size of the store.
“You are doing these fee things instead of raising taxes, but these fees are taxes to the public,” Bill Pearson, 65, of North Patchogue, said at the public portion of Tuesday’s meeting. “No matter if you do it to a store, to a company, anybody. It is a tax because the companies do not absorb the cost. We do, by the cost of the products we buy.”
The county projects that the bill would contribute an additional $500,000 in fees and fines collected in 2017 compared to 2016.