Cigarette tax goes up in smoke

Published 5:17 pm Thursday, November 18, 2021

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Charlotte County citizens are not likely to see a county-wide cigarette tax following a motion by the Board of Supervisors to table the idea indefinitely.

The quick decision came during the Board’s Monday, Nov. 8, meeting following a brief discussion.

In August, Charlotte along with other surrounding counties was made aware of a change in state law on July 1 in which counties can assess a tax on tobacco of up to 40 cents per pack.

According to the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC), if Charlotte were to impose a county-wide cigarette tax at .30, the potential collected revenue could be as high as $460,000.

“I think if we do this, we’ll see a situation like we have with the electricity tax,” Chairman Gary Walker said. “We started at the county, had all the proceeds of that to use for education, and one town after another, eventually passed their own, and that money went to the towns, and that’s their right.”

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 out- standing loans on its sewer plant renovations from many years ago, then shifting to the loan on the water plant renovation from years ago.

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

According to Morris, the tax is a five-year plan that imposes in- creases 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.

According to the CRC, for FY 21, the Town of Keysville collected $22,391 in cigarette tax.

Even with the county-wide cigarette tax dead, the remaining towns in the county may opt to enact a tax similar to the Town of Keysville.