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Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors hold off on using cannabis tax money

Posted at 10:41 PM, Nov 05, 2019

Santa Barbara County has more money from cannabis taxes than it expected.

The Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors could have voted Tuesday to allocate more than $1 million for different programs or projects, but after two motions failed to get the four-fifths vote needed the board decided they will revisit the topic come April.

"Last fiscal year our budget was adopted assuming a revenue from cannabis tax of about $5.4 million. In reality, when everything was tallied we received 6.7 million... about 1.3 more than the adopted estimate," said Jeff Frapwell, Santa Barbara County Assistant Executive Director.

Santa Barbara County has extra money to spend, but the board of supervisors is having trouble deciding which projects should receive those funds.

One-time purchases could include buying three handheld THC analyzers for the sheriff's cannabis compliance team. That would total to about $54,000... something all the supervisors were able to agree upon.

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said while the money generated is thanks to cannabis, people will likely want to see that money being spent on something besides cannabis.

"All this cannabis money is not just going to be spent on cannabis issues. I don't think that is what people expected,' said Lavagnino.

Other potential uses include installing equipment for electric powered cars which the county plans on buying over the next five to seven years.

"This opportunity to leverage certain industries with certain revenue opportunities in Santa Barbara County to identify higher priority spending obligations or opportunities and that would speak specifically to this issue of the electric vehicle infrastructure," said Joe Armendariz, member of the Santa Barbara County Tax Payer's Association.

Supervisor Das Williams would have liked to see funds allocated to park projects and active transportation plans.

"If we don't do anything that is really going to tick me off. It is really going to make me question this whole game where we severely under budget- then we bring it when it requires a four-fifths vote and then we can't get anything through to the community," said Williams.