Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting directed staff to draft at a flexible taxation structure in developing a commercial cannabis ballot measure stressing — make it simple for voters to understand.
Back on February 20, the supervisors directed staff members to begin drafting a measure that would gauge the county’s interest in allowing commercial marijuana activities as a way to garner revenue for other county services. The plan was to hold several special meetings. However, after meeting with its hired consulting firm, staff determined more information was needed regarding what the supervisors would be willing to consider in areas like cultivation, retail, manufacturing, distributing and testing.
While acknowledging that staff was not prepared to talk about the framework for a plan, County Administrator Craig Pedro detailed, “What staff is suggesting is developing a ballot measure that would set forth the basis of this taxation in each of the five areas and establish a maximum tax rate range that the board could later work within each area, should it choose to allow that form of commercial cannabis to operate in the county.” He explained the options for taxing those areas could be a percentage of gross receipts, a specific dollar amount per square footage or a combination of the two.
With a flexible, yet capped tax structure, approved by the voters, Pedro noted, “The board could then, one, determine which aspects of the industry it might allow and where; and two, set optimum tax rates that maximize income while balancing against over taxation and avoiding black market commercial cannabis operations.”
District 5 Supervisor Karl Rodefer agreed that further meetings were not needed, stating, “I want to minimize the amount of staff time and resources that we put into this until we find out what the citizens have to say about a tax initiative on the November ballot.” District 2 Supervisor Randy Hanvelt concurred and insisted that there be clear communication with the public, stating, “This can be pretty confusing, but I think we were pretty clear, if we don’t have the ability to tax this and pay our costs then we can’t go forward with it. I think the public needs to understand exactly what they’re voting for it’s an important piece of the thing.”
The board approved going ahead with the staff’s request, which allows for the staff to work with consultants to draft a flexible taxation proposal, have it reviewed by the board’s finance committee and then approved by the board to put it on the ballot.