Proposed cigarette tax increase moves forward in Tazewell County

·2 min read

Jun. 3—TAZEWELL, Va. — A proposed tax increase on cigarettes is moving forward in Tazewell County, but the amount may change.

Eastern District Supervisor Charlie Stacy said only two people commented on the proposed 40-cent per pack tax increase during a public hearing Tuesday night.

"Two folks showed up to speak in opposition to the tax," he said. "One claimed it was unfair to target smokers and the other was a business owner who felt Virginia had a competitive advantage by not having the tax that West Virginia does."

Stacy said the merchant provided information on the number of cigarettes sold in Tazewell County and asked the tax not be imposed at 40 cents per pack.

"The board could not vote on the budget until after the public hearing so we will finalize it at our next meeting on June 29," Stacy said. "I expect the tax will pass but maybe not at the full amount of 40 cents."

Stacy said county staff are going to try and determine if those cigarettes are sold in Tazewell County how many would be subject to the tax.

"All three towns already have the tax and ours would only apply to businesses outside the towns so the number sold out in the county is likely far less than the total sold," he said.

The county could raise about $250,000 a year with the tax hike, county Administrator Eric Young recently said.

That money will be used to help finance $1.15 million more in local spending to, among other uses, equalize pay increases for some public school employees, Sheriff's Office deputies and deputy court clerks, who are not funded by the state.

Those employees are locally funded and would receive the same 5 percent increase that state-funded public school teachers, deputies and clerks receive.

This year the Virginia General Assembly approved the 5-percent pay hike for those state-funded positions as well as enacted legislation permitting Virginia counties to impose local taxes on cigarettes.

Young said no other tax increases are included in the proposed budget for 2021-22, which is $131.6 million in revenue with $130.2 million in expenditures.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com