Voters in the City of Arvin will have the opportunity to vote on two tax measures this Election Day.
Last summer, the Arvin City Council made it legal to cultivate marijuana in certain areas of the city. Now, the mayor is hoping the voters will agree to tax it. If passed, Measure M would impose a two to six percent retail tax on the drug. Anyone growing cannabis would need to pay four to six dollar per square foot of cultivation land per year.
The revenue from the tax would go towards improved streets and public safety, according to the city’s mayor.
“It’s going to help raise funds to improve public safety, to improve city services like park and road maintenance, to help keep illegal marijuana operations out of the city, and to help stabilize the city’s finances,” Mayor José Gurrola said, noting the funds will be overseen and closely watched by a committee.
The mayor said the tax is expected to generate between $150,000 – $300,000. The reason for the large estimate margin, according to city representatives, is because, up to this point, no one has begun to actually cultivate marijuana in the city.
“Right now, there are several businesses and developers interested in moving through the pipeline,” Gurrola said. “But right now there aren’t any operations that are online, so it’s going to take some time, even if measure m does pass, for those revenues to start kicking in.”
That, he said, is why the city is pushing another measure called Measure L. If passed, it would impose a 7 percent utility tax per household, with an estimated projection of $800,000 annually for the city. He said the city will always have the opportunity to reduce the tax in the future if Measure M provides enough funding.
But some in Arvin said they are skeptical. Bob Rodriguez is a board member for the Arvin Community Water District. He said he is not opposed to improving the streets and public safety in the city, but he questioned where the money will be spent, noting the city has already raised taxes for this exact reason.
“[The City Council]has lost a lot of trust,” Rodriguez said. “Once they put it in the general fund, it’s free game. We had a one cent tax raise, and that was to improve the streets, police dept., and we had people that was really staying on top of this and wanted to find out exactly where all this money that had been generated, and they couldn’t get any answers. That’s not a good thing.”
Both measures need a simple majority to pass.
Today marks eight days until Election Day.