Like many localities, the Town of Montross is keen to see if it can round up a bit of extra income. In the most recent months, the main idea that was discussed was the possibility of a cigarette tax. At last month’s Montross Town Council meeting, Town Manager Patricia Lewis had a small update on the subject.

Neiman Young, the County Administrator of neighboring King George County, had been the primary driving force behind the regional cigarette tax. When he resigned to spend more time with his family, several county officials created a committee to look at alternatives for implementing the tax. 

Once February 17 rolled around, Lewis attended a meeting with several King George County officials, the county admins for Northumberland, Lancaster and Westmoreland County, as well as Jerry Davis, the director of the Northern Neck Planning District Commission, during which Davis presented a draft agreement.

Matt Britton, the King George County Attorney, in turn reviewed the agreement, tweaked it and sent it to the remaining county and town attorneys. Britton also started working on a model ordinance to be passed.

“The goal is to get this all passed by July first,” Lewis explained. “Discussion included each county and town appointing at least one member each to the board, but there are things still needing to be worked out.”

Another topic of discussion at the meeting was on the Northern Neck Planning District Commission being what Lewis called the “Administrative physical agent,” would allow the commission to oversee the entire program for a percentage of what was collected. Lewis was in favor of the idea, stating, “It would be well worth it.”

As for what the upper limit on a cigarette tax would be, as of the start of January 2020, the Code of Virginia states that the rate cannot exceed 2 cents per cigarette or 20 cents per pack, though any rates higher than that which were already in place would be grandfathered in. After a conversation, Lewis and Westmoreland County Administrator Norm Risavi agreed that the tax rate on cigarettes should be the same for both the town and county.

By the time this piece is published, another meeting will have taken place.

“I’m hoping it will generate some revenue,” she concluded. Mayor Terry Cosgrove agreed, voicing his support for the idea, stating, “It has a lot of potential for small towns.”