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Thursday, July 8, 2021

Lompoc consolidates cannabis tax election with governor recall vote

Posted By on Thu, Jul 8, 2021 at 12:21 PM

Lompoc city residents will have a chance to vote on proposed changes to the city’s cannabis tax on Sept. 14, rather than Aug. 31 as was originally planned. The city voted to consolidate the cannabis tax election with the vote to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, a move that will save Lompoc nearly $200,000 and allow people to vote by mail or in person.

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO
The cannabis tax changes, if voted through, would “impose tiered taxes on cannabis manufacturing and distribution operators, change how all cannabis taxes are calculated, and allow those taxes to be shown on customer receipts,” City Attorney Jeff Malawy said at a July 5 special meeting.

“The legislature did pass a bill Thursday [July 1], we found out about it late Thursday afternoon, that the recall was then set for Sept. 14,” City Manager Jim Throop said at the special meeting. “We were still going to go with our Aug. 31 date as the council approved.”

But, the consulting firms that Lompoc was planning to use for its special election—firms that the county has used in the past—“had backed out earlier when they heard the recall was coming up,” Throop explained. The city would have had to wait until November to hold the special election using the county’s consultants, and it would have been more costly.

Lucky for Lompoc, there’s another option.

“On this bill that was signed, they attached a rider, and that rider said, any city that called a special election prior to June 15, which is us, you can then consolidate with the county and be part of that election for the recall,” Throop said.

But, he continued, the state legislation only gave the city four days to approve this change, hence the last minute special meeting.

If the city opted to do a separate special election in November, it would have cost about $250,000. But consolidating it with the county-run recall ballot will bring it “back to a normal cost of about $65,000,” Throop said.

“The best thing [is] we’re having the county do it,” he added. “They’re professionals, they do this all the time, they know how to run an election, they know how to count the ballots and get everything done.”

Another benefit of combining the elections is that people can vote by mail or in person. If the special election had been separate, it would have been mail-in only.

Despite the meeting being called at the last minute, a few community members showed up to give public comments, all of whom were in favor of combining the elections. The resolution to consolidate the elections passed unanimously. Δ
—Karen Garcia
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