Petersburg Pilot -

Marijuana excise tax ordinance passes second reading

 


The Petersburg Borough Assembly held its second reading for an ordinance concerning an excise tax being

applied to all marijuana and marijuana products in the borough at its meeting Monday.

Any proposed tax would depend on the results of the upcoming Oct. 4 municipal election. If voters approve marijuana sales, a tax of $25 per ounce could be charged on the cultivation, manufacture and importation of marijuana and any marijuana products for commercial use.

In the first reading of the ordinance assembly member Nancy Strand voted against an amendment designating up to 50 percent of tax revenue for one purpose. In this case, allocation to mental health treatment for alcohol, drug and health related issues. Strand reiterated her stance on the issue during the second reading.

“I’d like to see it revert back to the way it was when we started,” she said. “I’m not comfortable with earmarking funds for any special thing. The property development fund is about as far as I’ll go.”

Strand made a motion to amend the wording back so the excise tax proceeds would be deposited into the borough’s property development fund. Assembly member Jeigh Stanton Gregor seconded the motion.

Assembly member Eric Castro said he liked the idea of revenue going to support health programs in the

borough and having a “strict vision” for the funds. Castro agreed with local resident Marj Oines, who attended

the first and second readings, and desired a portion of the revenue to go toward supporting drug and alcohol counseling.

Stanton Gregor said he also liked the idea of supporting Oines and community health, but he did not like the vague nature of where the funds would go. Castro and Stanton Gregor said the process of allocating funds to community services can be difficult during the borough budgeting process.

“Member Castro mentioned struggling with the community services portion of the budget last year, I’d like to avoid those struggles in the future

and keep things streamlined,” Stanton Gregor said. “And if the property development fund is something we feel isn’t a good place to put this money in the future, we can always change our

minds and doing something else with it. We can always switch course if need be.”

The amendment passed with a 4-1 vote, and any tax revenue generated by a marijuana excise tax will go into the property development fund, for

now. Kurt Wohlhueter attended the meeting telephonically and voted for

the amendment. Cindi Lagoudakis was the lone vote against reverting back to the original wording.

The purpose of the property development fund is collecting money to be used as deemed necessary for land purchases, building construction, maintenance of borough buildings and borough improvements. The amended ordinance passed unanimously, and Stanton Gregor took the opportunity to express his thoughts about the benefits of having an excise tax in place.

“I mentioned this last time, with both state and federal monies becoming less and less for Petersburg, I think this is a great opportunity for us to make money for the community,” he said.

The final reading of the ordinance will take place at the assembly’s next meeting on Oct. 3.

 

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