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Fredericksburg seeks admissions tax increase

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Fredericksburg City Council on Tuesday briefly discussed its legislative agenda that includes asking the General Assembly to amend the law so it can charge a different rate for the admissions tax on some city venues.

The goal is to charge a higher rate at the minor league stadium that a group of investors plans to build in Celebrate Virginia South.

Under the proposed agreement between the city and the stadium partners, which includes the owners of the Hagerstown Suns and Diamond Nation, the admissions tax rate at the stadium would be 7 percent. The tax rate at other facilities would remain 6 percent.

City Manager Bev Cameron said if legislators don’t approve the request, the city would likely raise the rate to 7 percent for all facilities. The chief businesses that would be impacted are the movie theaters in the city.

The Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, have applied to relocate from Maryland to Fredericksburg. The aim is for the team to begin playing here for the 2015 season.

The council is expected to finalize its legislative agenda on Nov. 26.

It’s also considering asking to double the fees charged for civil, criminal and traffic courts to help pay the debt on the new courthouse, which is scheduled to open in June.

People are currently charged $5: a $2 fee for civil, criminal and traffic cases for courthouse construction, renovation and maintenance, and $3 since the current facility does not meet state court facility guidelines.

The council would like to charge a total of $10.

The draft agenda also asks the state to provide a higher rate of reimbursement to the city for inmates sentenced to state prison who are being held  at the Rappahannock Regional Jail. The state currently pays $12 per day for each inmate but the city said that does not cover the cost.

At the suggestion of Councilwoman Kerry Devine, the council would ask  the state to amend the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control statute to allow alcohol consumption on site during arts events such as First Fridays. The request is to grant an ABC beverage license so wine or beer could be served at those events, though not sold. The license would be for a maximum of 12 days per year and the alcohol would be limited to two 5-ounce glasses of wine or one 12-ounce glass of beer per patron.

Devine said the city’s arts commission supports the request.

Pamela Gould:  540/735-1972