A proposal for an admissions tax at the planned Dominion Raceway in Spotsylvania County didn’t make it off the starting line.
A divided Board of Supervisors this week voted against seeking General Assembly approval to allow the county to tax tickets at venues with more than 1,500 seats.
Supervisor Greg Cebula said he proposed the tax as a way to offset the cost of needed transportation improvements near the raceway, which will be at the Interstate 95 exit in Thornburg. “It is an additional source of revenue that will help the citizens of this county bear the burden of outside tourists using our roads, using our facilities,” he said.
Cebula noted that he was simply seeking the General Assembly’s approval to impose the tax. If the supervisors received that approval, they would have to take a separate vote to tax venues such as the raceway.
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Supervisors Chris Yakabouski and Gary Skinner voted in favor of Cebula’s proposal.
Meanwhile, Supervisors Ann Heidig, Timothy McLaughlin, David Ross and Paul Trampe voted against making the admissions tax request. Some of them said it would hurt economic development in the county.
“If anything, we’re going to discourage future growth,” McLaughlin said. “And we’ve got a racetrack coming. Sounds like we’re penalizing this new racetrack if he comes into the county. I just don’t get it.”
“If you want less of something, you tax it,” Heidig added.
Ross said he was confident that tax revenue from the racetrack would offset the cost of any road improvements.
Spotsylvania residents Dale Swanson and Al King, who are active in local GOP and tea party circles, advised against the tax during a public hearing. “If Spotsylvania has a reputation of adding taxes after companies have been in place, I cannot conceive that this is going to help economic development,” King said.
The debate reflected divisions among Republicans in Spotsylvania.
Cebula ran for office as a Republican but has had disagreements with the more conservative wing of the party. At this week’s meeting, Skinner said he was a Republican but “not a tea party person.” Skinner did not receive the county GOP’s support during his bid for re-election last year.
Earlier this month, Spotsylvania received voter approval to borrow up to $63.3 million for transportation improvements over the next eight to 10 years. About $10.3 million of that is earmarked for improvements in Thornburg, including the replacement of the Mudd Tavern Road bridge over I–95.
Raceway owner Steve Britt declined to comment on the proposed admissions tax.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402