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La Salle County OKs marijuana tax on top of city taxes

Allowing sales in unincorporated areas to be decided

Taxes on marijuana in La Salle County keep on climbing before it even hits the market.

The La Salle County Board on Monday unanimously approved adding an additional 3% sales tax on marijuana sold in municipalities in La Salle County, on top of the 3% those municipalities such as Ottawa have already approved individually.

This additional tax does not include unincorporated communities in the county’s limits, as the board has yet to decide whether to allow the sale of legal recreational marijuana outside city limits. Board members are expected to vote on that matter at next month’s meeting.

Chairman Jim Olson advised the board the tax on sales in municipalities should be strongly considered as it’s another revenue source to help the county through its financial crisis.

“It’s definitely going to be another revenue source. I don’t know what (money we’ll get) but it’s going to be something,” Olson said to media after the meeting. “I don’t think the board would be responsible if we didn’t collect the revenue from it.”

Olson said he’s uncertain if it’s something other counties have also been doing but assumes they probably are following suit.

The board supported the tax and some had hoped to get the percent they pull in from sales a little higher.

Board Member Tom Walsh (D-Ottawa) had made an amendment to raise the tax to 3.75%, the maximum the county could approve.

Olson said during the meeting he preferred to keep it at 3% as home rule communities had been locked into 3% and he wanted to remain “competitive,” but Walsh and others disagreed.

“My thought is, if they’re here they’re going to buy it,” Walsh said during the meeting. “I don’t think the .75% is going to prevent the sale, in my mind. Unless we’re dealing with larger quantities.”

The amendment failed by a 10 to 14 vote.

Still uncertain if marijuana will be sold in unincorporated communities

Olson also addressed any concerns that the passing of the tax meant the county was allowing the sale of marijuana in unincorporated communities.

“We do not have to allow it in unincorporated areas,” Olson said in the meeting. “It’s been brought to my attention that a few members strongly oppose it being sold in the unincorporated areas.”

Whether or not it’s sold outside of municipalities will be voted on next month, but in the meantime, county officials will look into what sort of license will be needed should the board approve the motion.

Olson said he attended a seminar on the issue and expects licenses to be similar in scope and price to alcohol licenses where an individual applies for both a local license and a state license.

The La Salle County Board will discuss the sale of marijuana in unincorporated areas during their board meeting next month.

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