Nearly three years after first imposing the tax, the Hanford City Council raised the city’s cannabis taxes to the maximum allowable levels under city ordinance on Thursday.
The measure passed with a 3-2 vote. Since the vote was conducted electronically, it was not announced how each council member voted.
However, Vice Mayor Diane Sharp made the motion to approve the raise, which was seconded by Councilwoman Amanda Saltray.
Mayor Francisco Ramirez spoke in favor of the tax because it is focused on retail businesses in Hanford, not medical marijuana.
“A lot of it has to do with the will of the people stating that they want to do the taxation, so I’m not going to go against that will,” Ramirez said.
On the other hand, Councilwoman Kalish Morrow spoke out against it.
“In my household taxation is definitely a dirty word, so I’m definitely going to be very much opposed to this,” Morrow said.
Morrow also noted her use of cannabis recently as a sleep aid and to help combat her chronic arthritis.
“I think that there’s a lot of people like myself who are finding the benefits of that,” Morrow said. “I don’t use it recreationally, but I do use it as basically an over the counter medicinal aid.”
Since the tax was first enacted on Jan. 1, 2019, the retail sales tax rate was four percent.
That rate will now rise to 6 percent, per the council’s directive.
The testing laboratory tax rate is also moving from one percent to 2.5 percent of gross receipts, while the distribution tax rate is increasing from two percent to three percent.
Manufacturing, processing, non-storefront and any other non-specified cannabis businesses will see their rates rise from 2.5 percent to four percent of gross receipts.
Museum nonprofit extends lease through 2022
Hanford City Council approved an extension of the Carnegie Museum of Kings County through the end of next year for its lease.
The museum first moved into the historic Carnegie Library building in June and has worked to improve the property.
The city’s staff report noted that the museum “has done a great job of developing their museum and building a reputation of offering items and exhibits that are of value to the citizens of Hanford.”
Hanford is continuing to evaluate the structural issues of the 116-year-old building as it explores the possibility to sell to the Carnegie Museum of Kings County.
The lease term runs from June 15, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2022. The Carnegie Museum of Kings County will pay $10 to occupy the building and will be responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the property.
The council declared the library building as surplus property in June, opening the door for the nonprofit to work out a deal with the city.