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401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421

Marijuana tax, council seats slated for April ballot

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At the municipal election scheduled for April 3, Delta voters will fill two council seats and be asked to consider taxation on the sale of marijuana, even though sales are currently prohibited.

A petition is being circulated that asks Delta City Council to reconsider a 2013 ordinance prohibiting retail marijuana stores, marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana products manufacturing and marijuana testing facilities within the City of Delta.

If a sufficient number of signatures is collected on the petition, the question will go to the city council. If council declines to repeal the marijuana ordinance, a special election will be scheduled.

City clerk Jolene Nelson said the special election could potentially take place in July. If either the city council or the voters open the door to marijuana sales, the city wants to immediately be able to collect taxes. The other alternative is to wait and see if sales are approved, then put the tax question before voters in November, a move that could cost the city tax revenue.

Although several council members have previously expressed opposition to marijuana sales, they unanimously approved the wording of the ballot question.

With voter approval, an excise tax of 5 percent would be placed on the sale of unprocessed retail marijuana. Retail marijuana products would be taxed at a rate of 2 percent, in addition to the municipal sales tax already imposed by the city.

The ballot question must contain an estimate of the proceeds that would be generated by the tax on marijuana. The city estimated those revenues at $325,000 in excise tax and $275,000 in sales tax.

City manager David Torgler explained the estimates are based on sales in other communities in Colorado, which were found to vary greatly. Sales tax revenues in Trinidad rang in at $6 million, he said, but that city is easily reached by residents of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. The best estimates, he said, came from the communities of Ridgway, Cortez and Gunnison.

The April ballot will be conducted by mail and will also include candidates for District C and an at-large position. Petitions will be available from the city clerk Jan. 2, but the race is already generating interest. Kevin Carlson, Jay Stooksberry and Christi Prettyman have indicated they plan to run for the at-large seat, and Nathan Clay has indicated interest in the District C position. Those seats are currently held by Ed Sisson, who is term limited, and Bill Raley, who is not seeking re-election.

Candidates must be U.S. citizens, at least 18 years of age and must have resided in the City of Delta for 12 consecutive months prior to election. Additional information is available from the city clerk at 874-7902.

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