Bristol, Va. city council passes cigarette, admissions tax hike

BRISTOL, Va. - Bristol, Va. residents may see some increases in fees after the city council passed two ordinances Tuesday night proposing tax hikes on cigarettes and admissions.

The council meeting was heated, as people protested a cigarette tax and admission ticket price increase on second reading. The tax on admissions passed, and would affect events like the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Festival, Bristol baseball games, and ticket prices to movies.

City council members said the tax won't be added to admission to donation events like the Food City Race Night.

Bill Morrell, co-owner of George and Sids in Bristol, spoke up against the cigarette tax, saying it would destroy his business. But the ordinance passed, meaning taxes could go up 16 cents a pack on cigarettes.

News 5 checked and found out just increasing the cigarette tax based on current sales figures could bring the city around $50,000 per month, or an estimated $600,000 per year in new tax revenue.

Morrell called the passing of the cigarette tax a travesty of justice, saying, "The demise of the cigarette business in Bristol, Va., they will have that as their legacy. The council killed the cigarette business."

Another topic was an ordinance to rezone 7.5 acres on North Pinecrest Lane to accommodate for a new school. The city council tabled that, wanting more information from a traffic study. Residents said a nearby train could be dangerous for students and other pedestrians.

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