Lindsay lets voters decide on commercial cannabis tax

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City places Measure G on November’s ballot, a proposed tax on future commercial cannabis businesses located in Lindsay

By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN

LINDSAY – It doesn’t seem as if Lindsay is ready to let commercial cannabis in the city just yet, but if and when they do they want to be prepared to rake in some green. 

The Lindsay city council decided in May to take the issue of taxing future cannabis businesses up with the voters, letting them have their say on what is a fair tax. Now titled Measure G, Lindsay residents will vote on a $25 per square foot or 10 percent of gross receipts tax. 

Measure G, as it is spelled out in the measure’s text, says the tax will go towards maintaining essential public safety and general city services. It also notes the tax will generate an undetermined amount of revenue but the City estimates it will be between $500,000 and $3.5 million annually. 

During May’s meeting when the council voted 5-0 to place the measure on the ballot, city attorney Mario Zamora explicitly said the tax can be on the books without a business in the city. Which is to say the tax and business are mutually exclusive. 

If the voters pass the tax in November, the City would have the capability of taxing those businesses if they decided to let them in. And the tax does not necessarily mean the council would impose the maximum tax rate. Instead it would likely be far lower like Woodlake’s and Farmersville’s who have similar maximums but lower effective rates. The range is intended to give the council the capability of periodically raising the rate by resolution.

“We have a great deal of latitude within the language for the council to set the price and not have to go to another vote,” councilmember Brian Watson said.

The potential revenue is a tough thing to turn down for Lindsay’s general fund, but city staff warns of additional cost.

“These revenues will come at an additional cost for public safety and other negative impacts on the community,” the staff report said.

The Measure adds maintenance of essential public safety and general city services also includes but does not preclude funding for police, drug addiction and gang prevention, in addition to park maintenance and street maintenance for Lindsay residents.

Mayor Pam Kimball has long held her concerns over the industry, but was still the final vote in favor of putting the tax up to the voters.

“I think you all know I have my reservations about commercial cannabis in Lindsay but I am for putting it on the ballot,” Kimball said in May.

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