Fruita OKs 5 percent tax on medical pot

Fruita voters on Tuesday approved a 5 percent sales tax on medical marijuana, making the city the first in Colorado to tax products sold by an industry that has boomed in the Grand Valley.

Gaining nearly 60 percent approval, the measure unofficially passed 1,533-936 and will tack the tax onto Fruita’s existing 3 percent sales tax.

The new tax on products made with medical marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia will take effect May 1. The tax doesn’t apply to nonmarijuana products sold at dispensaries.

City officials estimate the tax will generate no more than $100,000 in additional revenue they will use to enforce and regulate dispensaries. There are currently no marijuana shops operating within city limits, although one is proposing to open on U.S. Highway 6&50.

The issue appeared to generate little buzz in the community. City Manager Clint Kinney said most people he talked to supported it, either because they were medical marijuana advocates who felt the tax would help legitimize the industry or because they were citizens who simply wanted the industry taxed at a higher level.

Meanwhile, voters decided they like the current makeup of the Fruita City Council, re-electing incumbents to two of the three available seats.

Council members Lori Buck and Bruce Bonar received 1,641 votes and 1,132 votes, respectively, to win their second four-year terms. Bob Fuller won the third seat with 1,329 votes, edging Victoria Gunyan (1,014) and Brandon Schuette (978). Fuller will replace term-limited Councilman Nick Kohls.

PALISADE

Voters elected Bennett Price and Dave Edwards as two of the three new town trustees, but they’ll have to wait at least one more day to find out who the third trustee will be.

Price (319 votes) and Edwards (244) finished first and second, respectively, in terms of the most votes. But candidates Patty Hanna and Penny Prinster each received 199 votes in bidding to join them on the Town Board.

Town Clerk Carol Speakman said she will conduct a recount today. If there’s another tie, it will be broken by a method such as drawing names out of a hat or flipping a coin, she said.

The tie is reminiscent of the 2008 Fruita municipal election, when voters deadlocked on whether to approve a 1 percent sales tax to fund a community center. The tie meant the measure failed, but community center supporters went back to the ballot in the fall.

Price, Edwards and either Hanna or Prinster will replace trustees Jim Bennett, Mario Coringrato and Dave Hull, who decided not to seek second terms.

MONTROSE

Voters elected three new Montrose City Council members, while downtown property owners and merchants agreed to tax themselves to promote the downtown area.

Thomas Smits easily captured the District I seat with 1,937 votes, defeating Brent Wallace (818) and Jesse Bailey (549).

The District II seat will be occupied by Carol McDermott, who defeated Bill Brougham 2,310-1,206.

Former Montrose County Commissioner Bill Patterson won the at-large seat with 1,776 votes, trumping former state Rep. Ray Rose (1,014) and Pat Treacy (828).

A group of property owners, business owners and residents in downtown Montrose voted 120-69 to impose a 5-mill property tax on themselves to form and fund a downtown development authority. The tax should generate $140,000 in revenue for the authority in the first year.

DE BEQUE

Town Trustee Troy Hansen ousted incumbent Mayor Dale Rickstrew for the De Beque mayor’s post, edging him 59 to 52. Darvin Locke finished third with 15 votes.

In the seven-way race for four seats on the Town Board, voters elected newcomers Scott Elliott (71), Forest Matis (64) and Cinda Rexford (54) and re-elected Trustee Gene Reed (61).

By a 62-58 count, voters rejected a 3 percent use tax on construction materials and vehicles purchased outside the town. The tax was expected to generate an additional $300,000 in revenue for De Beque in the first year.

DELTA

Ed Sisson defeated Gerald Roberts 800-630 to become the at-large member on the Delta City Council.

Incumbent District C Councilman Bill Seuell ran for re-election unopposed.

Delta voters approved by a 1,061-496 margin a measure that will allow a portion of the city’s sales- and use-tax revenue to be spent on capital improvements to the Bill Heddles Recreation Center. That portion of the revenue previously could only be used exclusively for recreation center operations and maintenance.

SILT

Silt Mayor David Moore barely won his bid for re-election, while three political allies claimed the trustee seats up for election.

Moore defeated challenger Meredith Robinson 299-294, according to unofficial results.

The town’s former administrator, Rick Aluise, was the top vote-getter in the six-way race for three trustee seats, with 372 votes. Also winning election were former Silt Police Chief Paul Taylor, with 337 votes, and Bryan Fleming, with 330 votes.

Mark Rinehart received 268 votes, Bob Shivley 228, and incumbent trustee Bobby Hays 188.

Moore and the victors in the trustee race had run as an informal slate they called Save Our Silt, and promised budget cuts and other changes in how the town is run.

Robinson and the other candidates had run as a second coalition.

NEW CASTLE

A proposed 2 percent use tax on registered vehicles was headed to defeat by New Castle voters Tuesday night.

The tax was being rejected, 398-119, with 83 percent of ballots counted. It would have been used to fund street projects.

A measure allowing town documents to be published on the municipal Web site rather than in a local newspaper was on its way to approval, based on the 371-129 vote reported by the town clerk as of 10 p.m.

Mayor Frank Breslin and Town Council members Art Riddile, Bruce Leland and Greg Russi were re-elected in uncontested races.

CARBONDALE

Stacey Patch Bernot has been elected Carbondale’s new mayor, defeating fellow Town Trustee Ed Cortez 686-174 in a race for the open seat. Former mayor Michael Hassig was term-limited.

Incumbent trustees John Foulkrod and Frosty Merriott and newcomer Elizabeth Murphy ran unopposed for three trustee seats.

— Reporters Mike Wiggins and Dennis Webb are the authors of this story.


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