Letter to the Editor: Additional marijuana sales tax should be used to fund library AND museum, not one or the other
In 2019, the Craig, CO City Council included three measures on the November 5th ballot related to recreational marijuana. The City Councilors immediately enacted the two measures allowing recreational marijuana to be sold and allowing related businesses. However, they decided to wait on the measure to enact additional sales tax, citing the need to allow businesses to get started. The exact wording of Measure 2A on the ballot was: “SHALL CITY OF CRAIG TAXES BE INCREASED BY $100,000.00 ANNUALLY IN THE FIRST FULL FISCAL YEAR BEGINNING JANUARY 1, 2021 AND SUCH AMOUNTS COLLECTED IN FUTURE YEARS BY IMPOSING AN ADDITIONAL SALES TAX ON THE PRICE PAID ON THE SALE OF RETAIL MARIJUANA AND MARIJUANA PRODUCTS WITH THE RATE OF SUCH ADDITIONAL SALES TAX BEING ALLOWED TO BE DECREASED OR INCREASED BY THE CITY COUNCIL WITHOUT FURTHER VOTER APPROVAL SO LONG AS THE RATE DOES NOT EXCEED FOUR (4%) PERCENT; AND WITH THE RESULTING TAX REVENUE BEING ALLOWED TO BE COLLECTED AND SPENT NOTWITHSTANDING ANY LIMITATIONS CONTAINED WITHIN ARTICLE X, SECTION 20 OF THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION OR ANY OTHER SPENDING, REVENUE RAISING, OR OTHER LIMITATIONS PROVIDED BY LAW; WITH THE TAX REVENUES FROM THE ADDITIONAL SALES TAX BEING COMMITTED AND USED BY THE CITY TO FUND THE EXISTING MOFFAT COUNTY LIBRARY (CRAIG BRANCH) AND EXISTING MUSEUM OF NORTHWEST COLORADO IN CRAIG FOR FIVE (5) BUDGET YEARS?”
The city manager stated during the city council meeting on Tuesday February 23rd that the current expected tax revenue from a 1% increase would be $40,000 per year and if enacted at the full 4% allowed, it would be $160,000 per year. This funding would help ensure the long-term futures of both the library and the museum. Unfortunately, further comments about being legally able to give 0% of that funding to the library and 100% to the museum are worrisome.
As a City of Craig voter, I voted to fund BOTH the library and the museum with $100,000 that starts being collected on January 1, 2021. I believed this ballot measure was saying, after this initial starting point, the city council could make changes. While the ballot measure does not say which percentage is allocated to which entity, I felt this measure implied the values would be similar. Even if the council has legal rights to a different interpretation, I feel they should follow the interpretation of the voters as they are representatives of the voters.
The fact the city council, without putting the decision to voters, decided to take on financial responsibility for the museum should not have a bearing on the decision on where the recreational marijuana tax dollars go. I appreciate the city and county were able to find a plan to save both the library and museum from closure, but we are still a long way from giving the community the services they deserve from our library. This funding could be used to better serve our community by splitting it between the library AND the museum as indicated by the word both.
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