County marijuana sales tax referred to voters

A 3 percent county tax on retail marijuana sales is headed to voters.

Clatsop County voters will decide in November whether to place a tax on retail marijuana sales.

County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to refer the 3 percent tax to the general election ballot. Revenue from the handful of dispensaries outside city limits would be about $50,000 annually, county staff estimates.

The state ballot measure in 2014 that legalized marijuana sales gave cities and counties the ability to impose a tax of up to 3 percent if approved by voters in a general election. No recreational dispensaries existed outside city limits in 2016, the most recent general election. The tax would be effective 30 days after voter approval.

In other business Wednesday, commissioners:

• Continued a public hearing on updated flood-hazard maps and revisions to land use rules, including requirements for property owners to pay for a permit when developing their land or seek approval before altering structures.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has required the revisions in order for the roughly 700 affected property owners in unincorporated, flood-prone areas of the county to be eligible for the National Flood Insurance Program. Residents expressed their opposition to the changes both at a county Planning Commission meeting in March and to commissioners Wednesday. Despite the county’s efforts since the Planning Commission meeting, the federal agency has not budged on any of its requirements, Community Development Director Gail Henrikson said.

Commissioners are scheduled to hold another hearing in May, when they may vote to adopt an ordinance. The federal agency has mandated that the county implement the revisions by June 20 in order for residents to remain eligible for the insurance.

• Appointed Robert Stricklin to the county Planning Commission. Stricklin has served on the commission before as well as the county Charter Review Committee and various other boards.

The commission makes decisions on land use issues and recommendations to the Board of Commissioners. Jacque Presley stepped down in February after four months in the position to focus more time on Angels for Sara Sanctuary — her nonprofit dog rescue organization.

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