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City: Consider Pot Tax To Ease Budget Woes

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The City of Sacramento's Director of Finance says the city council should look to marijuana to help stave off a budget deficit.

Leyne Milstein says the temporary Measure U revenues -approved by voters three years ago- are expiring -with nothing to take their place.  

"We have had the benefit of some one-time dollars. We're showing those running through right now this scenario. But I think the key thing we have to look at for fiscal year '17 is, we are really already at a point of imbalance where our expenditures - our forecast expenditures outpace our expected revenues."

Milstein told the council's budget committee Tuesday it should consider drafting a ballot measure that would increase the existing four-percent business operations tax on marijuana by six percent.

A statewide initiative to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana is expected to be on the November ballot.

In 2010, Sacramento city voters approved a ten-percent tax on recreational sales of marijuana assuming Californians would  legalize the drug in the same election. The local tax was not enacted because the statewide measure failed. 

Milstein also encouraged the council to increase the operations tax citywide for all businesses.

She encouraged the council to invest in maintenance repairs and efficiency projects to save money in the long term.

The city has already forecast a deficit for 2018 because of spiking pension costs.

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