Some Craig residents unhappy with possible withholding of marijuana tax funds for library
City Manager Peter Brixius said during a council meeting Feb. 23 that the city might be legally able to give 0% of marijuana tax funding to the library and 100% to the museum, going against initial ballot language.
What may have been a thinking-out-loud comment about funding the museum and not the library has some Craig residents upset.
Near the tail end of the Feb. 23 Craig City Council meeting, City Manager Peter Brixius — in his usual report to council — stated that current state and local taxes being generated from the three dispensaries operational in town will soon exceed about $220,000 a year.
“That’s kind of a beautiful thing,” Brixius said. “That’s hitting our targets, and in fact, exceeding our targets.”
Brixius then highlighted Ordinance 1098, which gives the city the option of implementing a sales tax increase to help fund the museum, and possibly the library, at some point.
A 1% increase in sales tax would generate $40,000 per year and if enacted at the full 4% allowed, it would be $160,000 per year, Brixius stated, assuming that sales tax increase doesn’t impact the businesses and increased costs for products.
“That Ordinance 1098 doesn’t clearly define how that split [between the museum and the library] should occur, should we ever decide to implement that sales tax. I’m thinking, based on how it’s worded, it could be 0% library, 100% museum, but that’s an interpretation based on how its written.”
Following Brixius’s comments, some community members expressed unhappiness with the idea during Tuesday’s public comment portion of the council meeting.
Jayne Morley, a longtime Craig community member involved with the Moffat County Library board, stepped to the podium and expressed her disappointment regarding the possible sales tax revenue split.
“At the conclusion of the last city council meeting, Peter Brixius stated that it may be legal to keep 100% of the tax revenue from the additional marijuana tax, if enacted. Yes, Measure 2A failed to clearly define a split, but that does not mean you should throw ethics aside and cheat the residents out of what they believe they voted on,” Morley said. “If enacted, you may be able to find a clever, legal way to do so. But I want you to ask yourselves if this is moral, or if this is ethical. If any of you are considering this, I want it to be clear that there will be a real cost to the city, and will cost you the confidence of your voters.
“I can usually defend your choices in personal conversations and on social media chats,” Morley added. “However, I cannot and I will not defend this greedy, and underhanded suggestion for that tax money. I am without doubt disappointed beyond measure it was even suggested.”
Kendre DiPietro later spoke during public comment, representing the Moffat County Library Board of Trustees. DiPietro recently wrote a letter to the editor to the Craig Press expressing her concerns about Brixius’s comments.
On Tuesday, she addressed city council directly.
“The Craig branch of the Moffat County Library is an asset to this community. In the first two months of 2021, the visitor count reached almost 5,000…The Craig library provides many benefits to the community, including early childhood literacy programs, senior engagement programs, a meeting and study area, access to technology, and — of course – books to read.
“The mission of the library is to provide an environment where lifelong habits of learning, self improvement and self expression are encouraged,” DiPietro added. “The library serves the minds, creativity and mental well being of our community. We, the library board, are asking you as city council to assist us in providing these essential services to the community.”
DiPietro went on to discuss Measure 2A and what the passing of the ballot issue was telling city council.
“The community was telling you that the library and the museum are important institutions to this community,” she said. “And that they should be funded by an additional tax on marijuana. As elected representatives of the community, it is your job to implement the measures approved by the voters. We respectfully request that you implement the additional marijuana sales tax, and that the revenue be evenly split between the museum and the library, as approved by the voters.”
Following public comments regarding the incremental marijuana sales tax, Brixius addressed the audience, apologizing for the comments.
“I want to apologize to some in the audience,” Brixius said. “The council did not entertain an incremental marijuana tax. As far as the tax revenue split, that was an editorial comment, and it came from me alone. I take full responsibility on that.”
A decision was not made on implementing the incremental marijuana sales tax, nor was a decision made regarding the revenue split of such tax.
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