The Lake County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposed tax measure, which would impose a one-percent sales and use tax to fund schools. If approved by voters this November, it could become the first county in Illinois to levy such taxes.

Lake County voters to consider local marijuana tax

Lake-County-voters-to-consider-local-marijuana-tax

 

Residents of Lake County are being asked to vote in on whether to levy a local tax to help county and municipal governments, with the legal sale of recreational marijuana due to begin on Jan. 1 throughout Montana.

On Monday, Lake County commissioners overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for a special election to decide whether a 3% local-option tax would be enacted in July. After the county’s three city governments — Polson, Ronan, and St. Ignatius — agreed to conduct the vote and pay to the expense of the election, commissioners drafted the resolution.

If voters accept the tax, the county anticipates that local governments would receive $180,000 each year. That figure was calculated by modifying a Missoula estimate for population, so real revenue might be far higher or lower.

In January, the county will host a public hearing on marijuana sales, with the special election scheduled for early April. If authorized, the tax would take effect on July 5, the first day of the new fiscal year.

Commissioners had to determine whether to apply the same tax to recreational and medical marijuana sales after voting to seek permission for a municipal marijuana tax. They decided on a ballot that included questions for medical and recreational sales separately. Bill Baron, the commission’s chairman, said he prefers to treat the two kinds of transactions as one. Commissioners Gayle Decker and Steve Stanley, on the other hand, backed the two-question ballot.

“We’ve always stated it’s about the money,” Baron said on Monday. “If it’s all about the money, we should treat them equally.”

Stanley said, “I believe the people should have a voice.” “… Since we’re having an election, why not offer them an opportunity to speak up?” That’s something we don’t do very frequently.”

The meeting on Monday was attended by Polson City Manager Ed Meece. Meece addressed the commissioners a few months ago about the idea of a tax.

“I can’t speak for the city commission, but I can speak for the city organization… we’re in favor of going to the people and asking for this power, whether it’s one issue or two.”

Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), HIV/AIDS, cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy and seizures, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and muscle spasms, severe and chronic pain, and severe nausea are among the conditions for which medical marijuana is considered appropriate, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The use of medicinal marijuana needs the consent of licensed medical professionals who issue medical marijuana cards.

Both sorts of sales are taxed in the state, according to Meece, however medical sales are taxed at a lesser rate. Recreational sales will be subject to a 20% state tax, compared to 4% for medical sales.

In the event that voters accept the tax, local governments have agreed on a revenue sharing formula based on population.

Half of the proceeds would go to the county. The Montana Department of Revenue would get 5% of the proceeds. The remaining 45 percent would be split evenly between the three cities, with 64 percent going to Polson, 25 percent to Ronan, and 12 percent to St. Ignatius.

Toni Kramer, the Lake County Election Administrator, was also present at Monday’s meeting. She estimated that the election would cost about $20,000 to run. According to the income model, the county will cover half of the cost and the cities would cover the other half.

Municipal administrations in the county are still ironing out the intricacies of local sales regulation. The Polson Commission will discuss various ordinances at its next meeting on Monday, Dec. 6, according to Meece.

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