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$950,000 from Grover Beach cannabis tax spent on police, fire and parks, city says

Posted at 6:50 PM, Oct 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-07 22:21:24-04

Cannabis sales are boosting Grover Beach’s city budget by hundreds of thousands of dollars and businesses just opened last year.

In the 2018-2019 fiscal year that ended in June, the cannabis tax generated about $950,000 and the city says it spent most of it on improving local parks and public services like fire and police.

The city expects this fiscal year to bring in nearly $1.5 million.

Currently, there are 10 cannabis businesses operating, including two retail storefronts. The city says 15 more businesses including cannabis manufacturing and distribution facilities are permitted and on the way to opening doors.

Some residents would like the city to spend their tax dollars on sidewalks and crossing signals.

“I'd like to see the city lit up more. It would make it feel safer walking around, especially walking by myself and to be seen by cars and tourists,” said Deanna Hersey, who lives in Grover Beach.

The Grover Beach city manager says city council members will look at using money from a cannabis tax to improve things like pedestrian safety, parks and public service.

“Council is also looking at paying down our pension liability costs so we can look at paying more money so we can pay them off on a sooner basis,” said Matthew Bronson, Grover Beach City Manager.

Bronson says the cannabis tax now makes up 10% of the city's general fund, but city leaders say they won't be going on a shopping spree.

“That's a revenue stream that didn't exist last year,” Bronson said. “So we are trying to be very cautious and selective as to how we spend those dollars so we don't overextend ourselves."

One man hopes the money is used for a number of things.

“City parks, streets, just making sure things look nice, safety for children, all that,” said Aaron Bevan, Grover Beach resident.

He also wants to see real-time updates from cannabis businesses.

“How much is generated from the marijuana sales - make that very accessible to the public and then we can decide what to do with it,” Bevan said.

City council members will look at allocating cannabis tax dollars from this fiscal year in February.

Grover Beach is taking advantage of this cash crop. Bronson says two more retail storefronts and nearly 10 distribution, manufacturing and testing facilities are on the way.

As the ordinance stands right now, there can be a maximum of 4 cannabis retail shops, but other cannabis-related businesses have an unclear limit.

The city says the third retail shop, Urban Leaf, is set to open up by the end of this year.

KSBY reached out to Natural Healing Center and 805 Beach Breaks for an update on cannabis sales but did not hear back.