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Why Petersburg vendors with past-due meal and lodging taxes could face criminal charges

PETERSBURG, Va. — The City of Petersburg says they are implementing an “aggressive plan” that includes possible criminal charges for city vendors who are past-due paying meal and lodging taxes.

A comprehensive timeline, which was approved by city council Tuesday, November 20, was sponsored by Ward 4 city Councilmember Charlie Cuthbert.

“The meal and lodging taxes are important components of the city’s total revenue stream,” said Cuthbert. “Our city government depends on these monies to pay our school teachers, our policemen, our firemen—all of our dedicated city employees, and to supply essential city services.”

The two motions adopted by city council set out the following steps:

“First, the Commissioner of Revenue will send a certified letter to each vendor of meals or transient lodging who has failed to remit as required by law. If by December 10, 2018, payment has not been made in full, the Commissioner of Revenue will give the city Collector the names and addresses of the businesses that have failed to remit, as well as the number of months they have failed to remit. This information will then be posted on the city’s official website.

If by December 17, 2018, past-due payments have still not been received in full, the city Collector will apply for a criminal summons from the magistrate. The Petersburg City Attorney, with the concurrence of the Attorney for the Commonwealth, will prosecute, seeking the maximum penalties allowed by law.”

According to Petersburg City Code Sec. 106-270 (and Sec. 106-302), any person that violates the lodging tax provisions or the meal tax provisions shall be guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.

Petersburg City Manager Aretha R. Ferrell-Benavides said she supports the steps outlined by city council.

“These steps are a testament to our Council’s commitment and determination to ensure the continued financial viability of the City,” added Ferrell-Benavides.

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