Charlottesville City Council is close to finalizing the city's budget for 2015. Monday night the public got a chance to weigh in on the numbers and a proposed tax hike that aims to curb smoking.
People weighed in on the $150.6 million proposed budget but mainly on the potential tax increase on cigarettes. Instead of a tax hike for property owners, the 2014-2015 budget suggests raising the taxes on cigarettes by 20 cents.
There are some concerns that smokers will just drive into Albemarle County to save some money, but the hike is expected to bring in an additional $265,000 in revenue for the city. Councilors say health is another benefit. They hope if the cost is higher people will think twice about lighting up.
Those against the hike say taxes shouldn't be used to change behavior.
"We understand that there is a good intention here but again the larger picture is that taxation should be to fund the core functions of government and if it’s not then I ask you please to question any other use of taxation,” said Carol Thorpe.
But others sided with councilors.
"I just want to speak in favor of taxation as behavior modification. I think it has a long and proud history and I think that we need to actually do more of it,” Anthon Zavala said.
Monday night was only the first of two readings regarding the tax. Council will make the final decision at its next meeting. Council is expected to adopt the 2015 budget this Friday.
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