Blue River passes on marijuana sales for now
Leaders in the town of Blue River will ask voters to approve a sales tax in November, but they’re holding off on the tax opportunity that is expected to be the real cash cow for many municipalities across the state: recreational marijuana.
The Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the sale and cultivation of the drug and will not join other Summit County towns in asking voters to approve a tax on the product in the next election. But officials said they would likely come back to the issue once they had a clearer picture of their plans for the town’s future.
Allowing marijuana sales and growing operations in a town with almost no commercial sector would require rezoning areas of the town so that establishments would be allowed, something town officials said they’re not ready to tackle before the completion of a comprehensive plan.
“The real issues is that we’re required to take action on an ordinance, when we’re really in the process of reexamining our zoning through the planning process,” Trustee Rob Waterman said. “So it’s premature at this time … . We want to do it as part of the global reexamination of the entire town.”
But Amendment 64, a change to the Colorado Constitution approved by voters last year that legalizes marijuana for recreational purposes, requires local municipalities to adopt policies regulating retail sales by no later than October 1.
“This will be our policy right now, which does not mean we cannot go back and change it,” Mayor Lindsay Backas said.
Officials said they saw the potential for marijuana to be a source of revenue for the town in the future.
But for now, they’re looking to a sales tax to deliver additional revenue in the nearer term. The also voted unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting to put a sales tax question on the ballot in November.
The town currently supports only about a dozen businesses, but leaders say they see the potential for the town to develop a commercial sector in the future.
The money, Backas said, would likely be used to upgrade town services, pave roads and support infrastructure needs.
“We want to improve infrastructure because we have more people living here full time now than ever before,” she said. “And they want amenities.”
But the last time Blue River put a sales tax measure on the ballot, in 2010, voters shut it down, with more than 70 percent voting no. The measure would have implemented a 2.5 percent on retail sales. A 2.5 percent use tax on construction materials, storage and any registered vehicles purchased at retail was also voted down in the same election.
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