Plastic bag tax included in Albemarle’s next budget

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has now held two work sessions on a proposed $565 million budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. The budget goes by the name Transform Albemarle and for the first time anticipates a very small portion of revenues from a tax on plastic bags.

“It is proposed to be effective January 1, 2023,” said Andy Bowman, the chief of the Office of Management and Budget for Albemarle. 

Those revenues are projected to be $20,000, and Bowman said their use is limited. 

“And for this there are uses that are restricted by the state for environmental clean-up programs, pollution and litter mitigation programs, educational programs on environmental waste reduction, and also providing reusable bag to participants in the programs,” Bowman said.

Five localities have already taken advantage of a law that passed the General Assembly in 2021 allowing them to collect a five cent tax for each disposable bag, according to the Virginia Department of Taxation. Albemarle will monitor Roanoke, Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Fairfax County and Arlington County to see how much revenue they bring in. Albemarle Supervisors will also have to approve an ordinance to enable the plastic bag tax. 

A category known as “other taxes” are projected to generate $74.1 million. (page 55 of the budget)

The budget also anticipates a decrease in the personal property tax rate as well as an increase in the food and beverage tax as well as the transient lodging tax. Supervisor Donna Price said this would help the county become less reliant on its biggest source of revenue. 

“I really appreciate the county looking to take action to reduce the 68 percent of total revenues coming from the real estate tax and in particular the transient occupancy tax going up three percent,” Price said. “Those are tourists who come to our area. The meals tax going up two percent is not limited solely to transients who may come through and our tourists, but it’s a relatively small amount.” 

The budget will also need to be updated to reflect the Virginia budget, which has not yet been finalized.  The General Assembly adjourned on Saturday without doing so and a special session will be called to finish up.

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