Pam Dudding Contributing writer
Craig County continues to encourage its citizens to “buy local.” It is of utmost importance so that the taxes stay within the county to provide more for the community.
In doing so, the Craig County Board of Supervisors have approved a sales tax of $4 per carton of cigarettes that will go into effect on January 1, 2022. Members discussed the possibility of reducing the $4 per carton cigarette that will be enforced on Jan 1, 2022.
At the November meeting, business owner Mike Carper spoke on behalf of the local businesses against the tax, sharing several surveys of other counties who had done the same, only to see a drastic reduction in total sales and tax revenue instead of an increase. Most counties have never regained their losses as the customers found other counties to buy their cigarettes.
A very important point that Carper made was that when people purchase their cigarettes, they also buy their gas, drinks, snacks, and other items, as a “convenient” one-stop shop, whether it be at Gopher Market, IGA Exxon, Carper Quick Market or Food Country. These businesses will be impacted.
Carper had shared the information that the U. S. Census for the State of Virginia, stated, “Moreover, excise tax changes, especially on consumer goods such as gasoline and cigarettes, drive consumers to make purchases in other jurisdictions that have lower or no tax, and, thus, lower prices. In other words, because of higher taxes, consumers would have less money to purchase goods and services and thus would see retail sales, and, in turn, tax collections fall or grow more slowly.”
At the December meeting, after some discussion, Dunne said she “would like to see the tax at $3 per carton to be more in line with Roanoke County which will be $2.50/carton.”
Jesse Spence also expressed interest in revisiting the tax.
However, nothing can be done until it is advertised and brought back up at a BOS “at a later date.”
Therefore, as it stands, the $4 per carton tax will be enforced on Jan 1, 2022, in the County of Craig.
County Administrator Dan Collins said he would take care of getting it back on the agenda after the proper steps were taken.
A vote was taken by the Board for revisiting and discussing the reducing of the cigarette tax. The vote was as follows: Spence, Dunne and Toelke – yes, and Bailey and Zimmerman – no.
A concerned fact is that there are still other local cities and towns with “NO” cigarette tax.
They are: Boones Mill, Buchanan, Dublin, Fincastle, Floyd, Narrows, Pearisburg, Pembroke, Stony Creek and Troutville. These are all surrounding counties that many Craig County citizens pass through and would switch their cigarette purchases as well as their gas and “convenience” purchases.
“I’m doing my best to keep the cigarette tax as low as possible for Craig County citizens,” Carper said. “This will not only impact retail business, but tax revenues throughout the county of Craig and the wallets of Craig County citizens too.”
Any citizen wishing to express their views should contact the Board of Supervisors.