By Connie Morrison –
The Accomack County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved fiscal year 2023 budget and the county’s capital improvement plan Monday in a special meeting held at Metompkin Elementary. The $74 million budget includes revenue from a planned tax on cigarettes.
“Page 1 of the resolution states that the budget relies on the enactment of a cigarette tax, effective July 1, 2022, to generate at least $422,000 annually net after administration costs,” Accomack County Administrator Mike Mason told the supervisors.
The cigarette tax had originally been proposed at 40 cents per pack, but recommended a lower rate.
Northampton County this week approved a motion to “work on adopting a resolution to implement a cigarette tax ordinance at 40 cents a pack,” which passed in a 4-1 vote. (See story on Page 2).
“Staff recommends that the cigarette tax rate … taken to public hearing be $1 per carton, as opposed to the advertised $4 per carton,” Mason said. “This rate is sufficient to meet the board’s revenue goal based on sales information the county has received from cigarette wholesalers.”
Supervisor Robert Crockett asked Mason to confirm that if the forecast cigarette tax receipts fall short, the Board of Supervisors could increase the tax at any time.
“Yes. The board is in complete control,” Mason responded, but a hearing would be required.
In response to a question by Supervisor Donald Hart regarding when the county would know if it would be enough, Mason responded, “I would say you want to give it three months or so and then if the projections are materially lower than we expected, then we can discuss whether we want to change the rate or not.”
The board approved public hearings for both imposing the cigarette tax and allowing the county to join the Chesapeake Bay Region Cigarette Tax Board, which will administer the cigarette tax. Both hearings are set for May 5, the same night as the board’s hearing for the American Recovery Plan.
Real estate taxes were approved at 59.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, down slightly from last year’s rate of 61 cents.
Supervisors split out cars, small trucks, and motorcycles, from the personal property class and created a new category taxed at a lower rate than other personal property. A rapid rise in vehicle values drove the changes to prevent large increases in the taxes on vehicles.
Supervisors approved $2.99 cents per $100 of valuation for the new classification.
The personal property tax rate, excluding vehicles, is $3.72 per $100 of assessed valuation.
The Accomack County School Division’s budget was approved at $72,045,302, of which the local contribution shall not exceed $21,438,775.
Among the capital improvements included were $2.5 million for the county’s share of a separate school administration building, funding for landfill equipment, public docks and ramps repair, other 911 equipment and facility expenses, airport improvements, maintenance and improvements to other county facilities.
The budget resolution clarified the status of staff compensation increases. “The resolution before you also makes the compensation increase proposed for county and state-supported local employees contingent on state action,” Mason said. “Unaffected are year two’s targeted salary increases for DPS and first responders, which do not rely on state aid.”