Money and Business

Pot tax may be coming before Santa Barbara County voters

New funds could help to reduce the deficit

A marijuana tax could bring new money to the Santa Barbara County budget. (file photo)

SANTA BARBARA CO., Calif. - Santa Barbara County is serious about putting a cannabis tax on the June 2018 ballot.

Former State Assemblyman, and now Supervisor Das Williams said the marijuana issue is complex, and has regulatory challenges.  It can also be a way to help fund the county’s underfinanced needs.   "I have been a public servant in this community for awhile.  This is the toughest public policy quandary that I have had," said Williams

The county has a forecasted budget deficit estimated around $20 million dollars.    It's not known when the discussions about the tax plan will begin, or what kind of tax formula would be used.  

Speaking to a legislative breakfast for the Carpinteria Chamber of Commerce,  Williams referred to the pot issues by saying,  “It’s here.  It is not going to go away by us wishing it to go away.  It is not going to go away by us passing an illusionary ban."

Williams says a pot tax is not the county’s first choice to solve its financial woes, but it can’t be ignored as a choice.

52  pot growers operating in Carpinteria have registered with the county.

More enforcement on unpermitted pot businesses is very challenging, and time consuming.

Williams said, “The way to enforce it is only with zoning enforcement.   It is the equivalent in the law of trying to bust people for illegal garage conversions."

    Cannabis is big business in the Carpinteria Valley with many greenhouse flower growers switching to pot. 

The county is very determined to have anyone who is growing greenhouse marijuana now or in the future, to have an odor control system.

"I will not let an ordinance be passed without  mandatory odor control for the county,"

 said Williams.

One grower Ed VanWingerden says he is engineering an odor control system now.

 

"As we speak,  pipes are going up. Two weeks from now we should have the equipment installed," said Van Wingerden

 Also at the morning meeting, funding for  the Carpinteria library was a concern. Even though the county has helped in the current fiscal year, there will be more financial needs from Carpinteria's city council and the friends of library coming up.

  Work is also underway to extend a popular coastal trail.

   The future plans will have it going the  beyond Bailard Avenue  bluffs all the way to the Rincon.

 

(more details and video will be added to the store later today)


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