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Eloise Bryant Cupps

Eloise Bryant Cupps, 84, widow of Robbie D. Cupps, passed away Monday, June 4, 2018. She is survived by her daughter, Charmaine Allen (Virgil); sister, Etta Mae Jarratt; brother-in-law, Frank Temple and a number of nieces and nephews. The funeral service will be held graveside 11 a.m.Friday, June 8 at Greensville Memorial Cemetery. Online condolences may be shared with the family at

No Cigarette Tax, but Water and Sewer to Increase Yet Again

With many people in attendance for the Public Hearing on the proposed Cigarette Tax, the Emporia City Council decided not to move forward. Despite the pending withdrawal of the motion, two citizens stood to offer public comment.

Herman Sadler, a resident of Greensville County and owner of Sadler Brother’s Oil Company in the City thanked the City Council for not proceeding and stated that “cigarette taxes kill towns,” offering the City of Petersburg as an example of what their Cigarette Tax did to his business.

Another resident of Greensville County, urged the Council to lower taxes in other areas. Mayor Mary Person clarified to him that they were not moving forward, but encouraged him to finish his comment.

The proposed fifty cents per pack tax, which has been proposed and killed before, was expected to raise $250,000-$350,000 each year, and it was anticipated that the bulk of the tax burden would have been borne by travelers on Interstate 95.

Emporia is one of only nine cities in Virginia that does not charge a cigarette tax. The City of Franklin charges a $0.60 per pack tax and has raised nearly $317,000 in revenue.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, cities only have so many opportunities to generate revenue, and in the case of our city, which is ranked as the most fiscally stressed city in Virginia. Given our current fiscal situation, without the cigarette tax, the only other sources of revenue include increased real property taxes. Our current rate of 90¢ per $100 of assessed value is lower than the median rate in Virginia, which is $1.07 per $100 of assessed value, and an increase in that rate is one of the allowable sources of revenue for cities.

The City of Emporia already has the highest Transient Tax in the Commonwealth at 11%. Our Meals Tax is currently 7.5%. Of these two taxes, the Transient Tax in nearly entirely borne by out-of-towners and the Meals Tax is geared toward travelers as well.

The City Council also failed to pass a budget this meeting, and added an additional budget work session to iron out the last of the details. As it stands now, the new budget will not include any increases in the Real Property Tax rate, but water and sewer rates will increase by another 2%, supposedly only adding an additional $1.13 per month to the average bill.

Members of City Council were concerned about saving taxpayer money.  Greensville County hit the City with a major cost overrun for the newly inaugurated transportation system.

The share that the City was expecting to pay was $3000. Instead of that expected amount, the city was asked to pay $26,000. When the City balked at that nearly ten-fold increase, additional funding was found in the Social Services budget.

There was concern on City Council that if the cost increased this drastically that the overruns would be greater when the grant funding ran out.

From October, 2017 to April, 2018 the service averaged $427 per month in revenue and had average ridership of 422 people per month. Given that only about 100 people per week rode on a two-bus system, some members of the City Council did not think that it was feasible to continue this joint venture with the County. The contract required a one year notice to pull out of the system, and City Council voted on Tuesday Evening that Greensville County should be notified of the City’s intent to separate from the service, effective July 1, 2020.

Council Member Woody Harris, who made the motion, felt that service was a “bad idea” when it was initiated and that they now had the documentation to prove that.  Harris also stated that the service was “having a negative impact on businesses based in the City,” and noted that it was discouraging to see how few people actually used the service.

The motion was seconded by Council Member Jim Saunders who said that if this were a private sector business he did not see how it would not be bankrupt with such a low revenue stream. With “the lack of ridership and lack of income, I do not believe that it is financially feasible.”

In other business, a change order for street paving was discussed and a public hearing was set for discussion of vacating the public right of way behind the Hotel Virginia on Halifax Street.

Before the Council retired to a Closed Session, they voted to cancel the July 3, 2018 meeting.

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