In front of a packed house Monday night, Richmond City Council voted to reject a proposed cigarette tax, while delaying a decision regarding the future of Stone Brewing Co.’s planned bistro.
City Council once again postponed voting on an ordinance that would allow for the demolition of the Intermediate Terminal building, a vacant structure at 3101 E. Main St. in the Fulton neighborhood that had been planned to be preserved and converted into a restaurant and beer garden for Stone.
The ordinance will instead be heard by City Council on May 14, following consideration by council’s Organizational Development Committee on May 7.
Monday night was the second time council has delayed voting on the matter, after the ordinance was initially set to be heard on March 26.
A council vote is needed to approve an amendment to the deal that brought Stone to Richmond in 2014, in which the city offered $8 million in bonds to renovate the building, own it and lease it to Stone for 25 years. In March, the city and Stone claimed that engineering reports show that the building is structurally insufficient to be renovated as initially planned.
Meanwhile at Monday night’s meeting, the council voted to kill an 80 cent per pack cigarette tax, a measure proposed by Councilman Parker Agelasto and designed to fund repairs and renovations at Richmond Public Schools.
Council chambers were filled with citizens on each side of the issue, some holding “Fund Our Schools” signs and others wearing “No More Taxes” t-shirts.
Among those speaking in opposition of the proposed tax were convenience store owners and Phillip Morris employees, while RPS teachers, students and parents spoke in favor.
“I support funding of our schools, I support teacher pay increases … I urge you to find another way of making this happen and not just charging a select few,” one convenience store owner said from the dais.
Superintendent Jason Kamras and school board member Liz Doerr also spoke.
“I have 3,259 open work orders open right now. I do not have the resources to address them all,” Kamras said, regarding maintenance needed at schools.
After hours of deliberation, City Council voted 6-3 to spike the proposed tax.
Council members Reva Trammell, Cynthia Newbille, Ellen Robertson, Kim Gray, Andreas Addison and Michael Jones voted against it. Parker Agelasto, Kristen Larson and Chris Hilbert voted in favor.