Tuesday, November 13 , 2018, 3:09 pm | Fair 72º


Goleta Voters Will Decide How to Tax Cannabis Businesses in the City

Voters in Goleta will see a ballot question this fall that would outline how the city decides to tax cannabis businesses, and cast a vote to bump salaries for City Council members and the mayor.

The Goleta City Council voted to approve the two ballot measures during Tuesday evening’s regular meeting.

Cannabis Ballot Tax Measure 

By a unanimous vote, on a motion by Mayor Pro Tem Stuart Kasdin and seconded by Councilman Kyle Richards, the council approved submission of a voter measure on the November ballot to establish a cannabis industry tax on commercial pot businesses, which if passed would allow the city to impose tax rates on licensed cannabis businesses expected to begin operation within Goleta starting Jan. 1, 2019.

The city expects to receive annual cannabis tax revenues estimated in the range of $334,000 to $1.4 million that would be used by the city as unrestricted general revenue.

The general tax would be used to fund municipal services such as street repair, parks and police, according to a staff report approved by City Manager Michelle Greene.

Under the proposed measure, the ordinance would also authorize the city to implement a business tax of 5 percent of gross receipts for retail cannabis businesses, 2 percent for manufacturers, 4 percent for cultivators and 1 percent for distributors and nurseries, until voters end the tax.

The proposed cannabis tax rates, to be imposed on wholesale or retail, would not exceed 10 percent of gross receipts, according to city documents.

Tuesday’s decision was made with no discussion among council members. 

City staff is drafting cannabis land-use and marijuana business license ordinances.

A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled during the council’s regular meeting at 6 p.m. on July 17 in the Goleta City Hall Council Chamber, 130 Cremona Dr., Suite B.

In April, the City Council agreed to hire SCI Consulting Group to help craft a package of marijuana-related regulations and outline a potential tax measure on cannabis companies.

Mayor and Council Salary Ballot Measure 

Goleta City Council members and the mayor will ask voters this fall to increase their salaries. 

The council unanimously agreed Tuesday to approve an ordinance that calls for a November ballot measure that would increase the annual salaries for all council members, and put the wages in effect in 2018.

The suggestion would result in council members annually earning $42,134 (75 percent of the median income for Goleta non-family households determined by the United States Census Bureau), while the mayor would make $50,561 (90 percent of the household median income for the city of Goleta).

Currently, all council members earn $7,020 annually, according to city documents.

Council salaries were first set at $300 per month when Goleta was incorporated as a city in 2002.

As a general law city — not a charter city — California law allows for Goleta’s City Council member salaries to be increased through a voter-approved ballot measure.

“How many times have you been in a job and had to go to your boss and ask for a pay raise because you weren’t getting enough money?” Councilman Roger Aceves said. “The boss has the ultimate decision. Now we are going to our boss — the people — and it comes to them to decide whether we get a pay raise or not.”

Tuesday’s vote comes after suggestions from the newly created Public Engagement Commission, in which the panel provided recommendations on a ballot measure including the salary amount, inflation and when the increase (if approved) should start.

In May, the seven-member panel concluded that increasing council salaries could spike residents’ interest in running for and serving on the Goleta City Council.

“I support the goals of what we are trying to accomplish with this in terms of having increased participation and reducing barriers that may limit potential candidates from being interested or able to serve on the city council,” said Richards, who preferred the pay increase in effect in 2020. “I continue to have concerns and reservations about the start date.”

In other actions, the council approved a resolution calling for the holding of the general municipal election in Goleta and requesting consolidation with the statewide general election.

November marks the first time Goleta voters will elect their mayor following the approval of a ballot measure supported by voters in November 2016 to establish an elected mayor with a two-year term. 

Previously, the job of mayor rotated annually among the five council members.

Voters will select two council members for four-year terms and the mayor for a two-year term during the municipal election in November.

The terms of Mayor Paula Perotte and council members Aceves and Michael Bennett are expiring in December.

Perotte, Aceves and Bennett were appointed in lieu of election in 2014.

Candidates for the City Council, and mayor's race, can file papers through Aug. 10.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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