Tulare is moving forward with a general tax on the city’s cannabis industry.
Tuesday, the Tulare City Council directed city staff to work on a ballot initiative for the November election, giving the voters the ability to decide whether or not to approve such a tax.
The council will officially approve sending the initiative to the ballot at a later date, but Tuesday’s direction kicked off the first steps in bringing a cannabis tax before voters.
Last year, the council awarded three retail cannabis dispensary permits for recreational sales within the city.
While the city currently collects revenue from the dispensaries through development agreements that the council approved individually with each dispensary last month, a general cannabis tax would level the playing field for all retailers and any additional development.
A draft resolution that the council discussed would set the maximum rates at $10 per canopy square foot for cultivation, 10 percent of gross receipts for retail dispensaries and 10 percent for all other cannabis businesses.
City Attorney Mario Zamora clarified to the council that the city staff would expect the actual tax rates approved by the city to fall closer to three or four percent.
The 10 percent maximum gives the council flexibility in the future depending on how the market plays out.
The council also discussed the possibility of adding more dispensaries in the future.
But as Mayor Dennis Mederos noted, two of the three dispensaries have not opened for business yet, leading the council to decline to move ahead with exploring more dispensaries for Tulare.
Council approves agreement for homeless shelter
Following years of discussions, the city council is moving forward with a homeless shelter to provide temporary housing for those in need.
The council officially directed the city staff to negotiate a lease agreement with Tulare County for the city to design, construct and operate the encampment on county property.
A potential site for the shelter is a vacant property located between S. K St., E. O’Neal Ave. and S. O St.
Tulare County currently has several offices and social service agencies located near the site, including the HHSA Public Health Lab, the HHSA Hillman Health Center and Kingsview Substance Abuse Program.
The city is proposing that the shelter be 20,000 square feet and include an office building, restroom and shower trailers, classrooms, housing units, storage containers, dog kennels, a basketball court and a garden, among other features.
The city expects the shelter to be able to house at least 174 homeless individuals and could accommodate up to 400 people with double occupancy or the use of bunk beds.
Total costs for construction are expected to run $3.45 million. The city has already allocated $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and another $1.5 million in surplus funds have been pledged toward homelesssness. The city is also working to gain a federal appropriation up to another $1.5 million.
City staff will return to the council on July 19 with a draft of the lease agreement for approval.