Lindsay voters approve Measure G by 67 percent of the vote allowing the City to tax future commercial cannabis
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
LINDSAY – Residents were asked earlier this month whether they wanted to tax future commercial cannabis businesses in Lindsay. The result was a resounding yes.
According the Monday’s vote count from the Tulare County Elections Office 961 voters said they wanted the City to tax commercial marijuana, while 434 voters said they did not. The Lindsay City Council has not recently taken on the matter outside of deciding to put Measure G on the ballot. But city manager Bill Zigler says they are putting a subsequent zoning ordinance in the works.
“The council has been consistent all along. They’re saying they don’t’ want to smell it, they don’t want to see it and they basically don’t want to know it’s there,” Zigler said.
According to Zigler the council is more comfortable with the packaging, manufacturing, growing and testing commercial cannabis businesses. And shortly after Prop 64 passed in November 2016, Eric Hansen, who bought the Lindsay Olive plant in 2016 had approached the City in regards to the type of cannabis business they are willing to accept. But outside of talks in early 2017 there have been no developments.
Now that it has passed the City can levy a max $25 per square foot tax or a max 10 percent of gross receipts tax. Spelled out in Measure G’s text, 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.
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 earlier this year.
Zigler says the City has not been able to dial in the amount of potential tax revenue that is out there for Lindsay. He said they have looked at coastal cities but the comparisons are not apples-to-apples. Their closest comparisons would be to Woodlake and Farmersville but Zigler says there is still some information left to uncover.
“You can hear it’s really good but until you can see the numbers, you don’t know and you need to hear what types of challenges they are seeing,” Zigler said.