By Pam Dudding
Months ago, the discussion of adding a cigarette tax brought some businesses to the forefront of the Board of Supervisors and the Town Council with their concerns.
The Craig County Board of Supervisors chose to impose a tax of $4.00 per carton of cigarettes, hoping to offset the cost of providing two more EMS workers to the force in Craig.
Going from a zero tax to $4 did not settle with Craig County citizens or businesses, as that is one staple that draws customers to the businesses.
Three businesses reported their sales reduced drastically, not only in cigarette/vaping/chewing tobacco sales but in the other staples those customers purchase when stopping in for those items, such as gasoline, drinks, and other fast pickup things.
Mike and Richard Carper, representing The Gopher Market and IGA Express ExxonMobil, along with David Stephens from Food Country expressed their concerns to the Board of Supervisors and later to the Town Council.
The Town chose to impose a $2 per carton tax from the $4 per carton tax, which was either equal to or less than most surrounding counties. This forfeited the $4 per carton tax within the town limits.
Since, businesses have seen their sales increase again, as they could not afford to lose the sales of these items as it helped them afford to pay employees.
“Concerning the Town Cig Tax which went into effect May 30, 2022, I want to thank the New Castle Town Council for taking the time to listen and understand the impacts of a cigarette tax on a town and county,” Mike Carper shared. “Since May 30th, we at Gopher Market have seen an increase in cig sales due to the difference between the $4/carton County Tax and the now $2/carton Town Cig Tax.”
Gopher Market is in the town of New Castle and IGA Express is in the county.
“We were down 30% between IGA Express and Gopher Market in cigarette sales (our#2 sales product, only behind fuel) after the County cig tax took effect on Jan 1, 2022,” Carper added. “The impact the County $4/carton cig tax had on our businesses was huge. We were out of line with surrounding counties, driving not only our cigarette sales out of county, but other purchases these customers were buying.”
The Food Country store manager added, “I would also like to thank the council for listening and helping to protect our businesses.”
“They, the Town Council understood what we (IGA Express & Gopher Market) were saying since October 2021 and did the right thing for their businesses in town,” they all shared. “So again, a “HUGE THANK YOU” to the New Castle Town Council for listening to their businesses and maintaining a competitive tax that will not drive business from the town!”