The Culpeper Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual legislative breakfast Wednesday, giving business owners a chance to express concerns to local lawmakers.
One of the biggest issues small business owners face is the BPOL tax, said Culpeper Cheese Company owner Jeffery Mitchell. He talked about the archaic tax, pointing out that as a business that deals with alcohol, he’s hit with an additional BPOL tax. BPOL taxes businesses at the gross income level.
“Councilman (Billy) Yowell is on the record saying it’s the most unfair tax that there is,” Mitchell said. “He himself was a small business owner and knows how onerous that can be.”
Mitchell cited the changing landscape of retail, talking about delivery from Amazon having an impact on small and large businesses alike.
“Retail as we know it has evaporated,” Mitchell said. “We’re seeing big box stores disappear and we’re seeing smaller businesses challenged to reinvent ourselves.”
BPOL punishes brick and mortar businesses, he said.
“It’s not an onerous amount, it’s the principle of it,” Mitchell said.
Del. Nick Freitas (R-30th District) acknowledged Mitchell’s concerns about regulation, particularly the ABC.
“I’m not a big fan of the ABC,” he said. “I want to see them work to get to ‘yes’ and not play gotcha with a business.”
He also said the legislators needed to take a look at BPOL as it was constituted due to the War of 1812.
Del. Michael Webert (R-18th District) said that it needs to be not as uniform, as each locality is different.
The legislators – which also included senators Bryce Reeves and Emmett Hanger – also heard from local non-profits about issues they face.
For Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services, executive director Brian Duncan talked about full scale, same day access increasing their load, as it has doubled the number of people they see with 100 new individuals each month. He also talked about the heroin epidemic and the funding that is need to properly help combat that.
Chris Ruble, executive director of Childhelp, Alice C. Tyler Village, talked about the regulations that has hurt children trying to seek help. New regulations have made the wait longer for children who are in the system looking to be placed with a provider, he said.
Webert asked why regulations impacted the referral process.
Ken Greenfield, of Cintas, talked about the importance of Career and Technical Education in schools and how it helps prepare students to enter the workforce.
He said he currently had three unfilled positions and that there are not enough qualified workers to fill the positions as they are not getting properly prepared.
Focusing more on CTE would help prepare students by teaching them proper skills.
“I do see the tide changing,” he said.
He cited other educational issues, talking about Virginia’s teacher shortage – which includes teachers in CTE.
Other presentations included agriculture and non-profits such as The Culpeper.