What are your priorities for Measure S, the commercial cannabis cultivation tax that was passed by voters in November?
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In November 2016, Humboldt County voters passed Measure S which places a tax on individuals who cultivate cannabis for commercial purposes. Now, the Board of Supervisors wants to hear from you. They want to know your priorities for funds generated by this tax. The county estimates Measure S will produce around $2.2 million in revenue in Fiscal Year 2017-18.
The following survey will ask you to identify the services that are most important to you. The following list of services was taken directly from the ballot language that citizens voted on last year:
- Public Safety,
- Job Creation,
- Crime Investigation and Prosecution,
- Environmental Cleanup and Restoration,
- Children and Family Mental Health Services,
- Drug Rehabilitation, and
- Other County Services.
Each of these services can be carried out in a number of ways, which we're calling strategies. This survey also asks you to let us know which individual strategies are most important to you.
Background and Perspective
While $2.2 million is a significant amount of money, it is important to remember that the county has some outstanding obligations that need to be addressed in order to continue providing the level of service our community expects. Some of these obligations include:
- Making improvements to facilities and programs so they are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Repairing buildings like local Veterans Halls and the Public Defender's Office
- Building up the county's Rainy Day Fund
- Economic recession likely in next year or two
- Bracing for changes at the state and federal level, including impacts from a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Measure S includes a basic structure that taxes cultivators according to the size and type of their grow. Outdoor cultivators are taxed at a rate of $1 per square foot; Mixed light at $2/sq foot; Indoor at $3/sq foot. While some estimate that there are as many as 10,000 to 12,000 or more grows in Humboldt County, only those who are permitted by the county can be taxed. Last year there was a concentrated effort to have cultivators begin the permit process, and more than 2,300 took the first step which is to submit an application to get a pertmit. However, just over 80 of those applications were complete (3.5 percent of all submitted applications).
The list of requirements that come with seeking a cannabis cultivation permit is extensive. The checklist alone is three pages long. If an applicant does not meet a requirement, that item must be fixed in order to move on to the next. In some cases, this can involve meeting regulations of other agencies, and as other folks who have obtained permits for building or otherwise can attest, it can involve significant investment.
This is all to say that it takes a significant amount of time and work to permit those involved with this newly regulated industry, so it is important to keep our expectations grounded.
Once all of the responses have been received, county staff will take the information and try to reflect the community's input when it proposes the budget to the Board of Supervisors on June 6. That date, and during the Public Hearings on June 19, are great times for you to attend Board meetings and let us know whether we got it right. The budget is set to be adopted later that month.