Snowmass Village will ask voters about pot sales tax in November election
The Aspen Times
As Snowmass gives the green light to pot shops in the village, voters will soon decide if the town should pose an additional 5 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana.
In a 5-0 vote Monday night, the Snowmass Town Council unanimously approved a resolution that will place the sales tax question on the ballot in November. Snowmass’ moratorium on marijuana, which has been in place since 2013, is set to expire for a third time Oct. 31.
The ballot question asks the electorate if Snowmass Village should implement an added tax on the sale of retail marijuana and respective products, which town staff believes would generate between $194,967 and $584,900 annually. These projections include the 15 percent excise tax and 10 percent sales on recreational marijuana that the state levies across all jurisdictions.
Some municipalities, however, tack on an additional sales tax at its dispensaries of as much as 5 percent. The city of Aspen does not levy an added tax.
Without the added sales tax, Snowmass Village anticipates that marijuana sales could garner the town an additional $97,483 to $292,450 in revenue.
Altogether, the town projects that pot shops would sell between $1.9 million and $5.8 million in Snowmass Village, according to the memorandum.
Snowmass Mayor Markey Butler urged her fellow council members again Monday to consider adding a question of allowing marijuana altogether on the ballot, which quickly became a moot point.
“We’ve covered this,” Town Councilman Tom Goode said. “I was under the impression that we’ve covered this.”
The council voted 3-2 on June 18 for town staff to develop a regulatory scheme for allowing pot shops as well as the wording for a potential sales tax question. Butler and Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk, who shares the mayor’s concern that dispensaries could harm the resort’s family-friendly image, were the dissenting votes. Feedback from the town’s marketing, group sales and special events advisory board, which advised the council move to forward with allowing recreational pot, indicated otherwise.
The elected officials on Monday also reviewed input from the town’s financial advisory board, which recommended that Snowmass voters approve the 5 percent added sales tax.
“The town’s financial position is very solid currently, but projections for 2019 to 2022 prepared with the 2018 budget show operating expenses exceed operating revenues,” Chairman Greg Smith wrote in a summary of the financial advisory board’s meeting July 11. “This opportunity to enhance tax revenue to help deal with these projected deficits is substantial, especially if available in a downturn.”
The council on Monday also briefly discussed where the added sales tax dollars would go, but decided to table the conversation until the outcome is known.
Sept. 7 is the deadline to submit ballot language to the Pitkin County clerk.
High Country columnist Katie Shapiro looks back at the legacy of legalization pioneer and Pitkin County Sherriff Bob Braudis, who died June 3 at 77.
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