County-wide cigarette tax could be a reality

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, August 5, 2021

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Charlotte is one of several surrounding counties looking at the option of enacting a county-wide cigarette tax while partnering with a regional tobacco tax board.

According to County Administrator Dan Witt, the board of supervisors has expressed interest in the idea.

“Yes, we are looking into it and would be part of a regional tax board if my board elects to do so,” Witt said.

The idea of a county-wide cigarette tax came following a Commonwealth Regional Council meeting in which members were given a presentation on a possible regional tobacco tax board.

Daniel “Dan”

There is currently a regional tobacco tax board in Northern Virginia, which has been in place since 1970 and has 19 participating localities. This board is being studied by southern localities as a path to possibly follow.

A tax board would be staffed, and that staff would have the authority to implement the program and enforce assessment/collection of the tax. The amount that each participating locality would contribute to a regional tax board would be prorated based on how many cigarettes each locality sells.

Due to a change in state law, starting July 1, counties can assess a tax on tobacco of up to 40 cents per pack.

If a town already has a tobacco tax, their respective county could apply the tax in the town unless the town blocks it. For instance, Keysville could block a separate tax by Charlotte County or stack it on top of their own.

The Town of Keysville enacted a cigarette tax two years ago to pay off outstanding loans on its sewer plant renovations from many years ago, then shifting to the loan on the water plant renovation from years ago.

According to Keysville Mayor Steven Morris, the tax is a five-year plan that imposes increases over a five-year period.

The tax began at 12.5 cents per pack and will end at 25 cents per pack.

Morris said after outstanding loans are paid off, the town may explore the potential of funding a small police force using the income from the tax.

“To date, the program has made significant strides in paying down the old loans,” Morris said.