County again seeking okay to tax cigarettes

Once again Pulaski County is seeking authority from the state to levy a local tax on cigarettes.

This marks at least the third attempt by Pulaski County and other counties across the state to be granted such authority by the state legislature.

Currently only cities, towns and the counties of Arlington and Fairfax are permitted to impose a tax on the retail sales of cigarettes by the pack. The other 93 counties – including Pulaski – must seek approval from the General Assembly to be granted the same taxing authority.

Proponents of the effort say having the taxing authority would be beneficial to localities like Pulaski County because it would level the playing field for all counties and create a needed new revenue stream to assist in funding state mandates and underfunded local services such as public school capital projects.

Giving counties authority to tax cigarettes would also likely end discrepancies between counties, towns and cities in the pricing of cigarettes.

If the legislature does finally grant its approval, the county Board of Supervisors would have to vote whether it wants to seek voter approval of a tax on packs of cigarettes through referendum.

The tax would then be levied if a majority of voters support it at the ballot box.

A resolution expressing the supervisors’ support for state legislation that would grant counties such taxing authority was approved on a 4-1 vote with Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp casting the lone dissenting vote.

“I can’t support any tax on tobacco,” Bopp said.

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot