Tax idea goes up in smoke

Published 7:19 pm Wednesday, August 18, 2021

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The Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors (BOS) has decided not to participate in a regional tobacco tax board.

“This is a dead issue within the county,” Supervisor Mike Hankins said. “The county only has three locations that sell cigarettes.”

The decision came following a brief discussion Thursday, Aug. 12, but no official vote was taken.

“I’m not in favor of a tax of any kind,” Supervisor Robert Zava said during the BOS meeting.

Supervisor Wayne Hoover said he would not support the issue if it came to a vote by the board.

The discussion on a possible tax came following a Commonwealth Regional Council meeting in which members were given a presentation on a possible regional tobacco tax board.

According to Hankins, a study for Lunenburg was done using 30 cents per pack of cigarettes for the tax.

The estimated gross revenue for the county would be about $120,000.

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 the BOS had chosen to enact a cigarette tax, Hankins said in a July interview that the money would go into the county’s general fund and be used for items such as teacher salaries, building maintenance and any other county expenses.

Towns may also enact a cigarette tax if they so wish.

“The towns may decide to address this within the towns,” Hankins said. “That is where most of the sales take place.”

Several surrounding counties are also considering joining a regional tobacco tax board.

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.

There is currently a regional tobacco tax board in Northern Virginia that has been in place since 1970 and has 19 participating localities.