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Owner presents petition against cigarette tax

Owner presents petition against cigarette tax

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ABINGDON, Va. — Logan Patrick spoke against a proposed cigarette tax for Washington County at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Patrick, the owner of Bobby’s Market on the outskirts of Bristol, Virginia, argued that the tax would hurt business in Washington County and drive customers to drive elsewhere — eventually resulting in lost revenue.

“It’s not just for me,” Patrick said. “It’s for other business owners in this county.”

In turn, Patrick presented a petition signed by over 400 people — collected in one day at Bobby’s Market.

All who signed that petition were opposed to the new tax, Patrick said.

In the end, the Board of Supervisors made no motion to join the Mount Rogers Regional Cigarette Tax Board following Tuesday’s public hearing, in which Patrick’s presentation was the only voice heard.

The tax board is a collaboration of other Southwest Virginia localities, including Smyth County, Grayson County, Wythe County, Pulaski County, Rural Retreat and Wytheville.

Carroll County did not join the cigarette tax board, because that county would have lost sales from nearby North Carolina, where cigarette taxes are lower, Patrick said.

The tax could have been as high as 40 cents per pack, said County Administrator Jason Berry.

“I am not for us joining the Mount Rogers Regional Cigarette Tax Board,” said Patrick.

Bobby’s Market has been open for 60 years, Patrick said. “We are your largest single store of retail of cigarettes in your county,” Patrick said.

“If we lose sales, of course, we lose revenue,” Patrick said.

“We have a very unique store in terms of its location in the county,” said Patrick. “If you pull out of our parking lot, you’re in Bristol city.”

Patrick said 52% of his customers come from Tennessee — largely Johnson, Sullivan, Washington and Carter counties.

Mostly, he said his business takes advantage of having so many Tennessee customers.

The cigarette tax would be cost-prohibitive to calculate, in terms of collecting revenue, said Patrick. “It’s an unnecessary tax at an extremely unnecessary time.”

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