Taxes related to marijuana, schools and animal welfare working way toward ballot

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Vermont decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana

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Voters in Larimer County this November likely will be asked to pay higher taxes to pay for regulation of recreational marijuana, an increase in public school funding and a new local haven for wayward animals. Here’s a look at taxes working their way toward the ballot:


A $100 bag of marijuana would cost at least $132.35 in Fort Collins and $129.45 in unincorporated Larimer County after taxes under a statewide ballot referendum spawned by Colorado voters’ decision last year to legalize recreational marijuana. It seeks to set the rate of taxation on retail marijuana purchases. The tax question aims to tack a 15 percent excise tax and a 10 percent special sales tax to the existing

2.9 percent state sales tax on a bag of pot. Local sales tax — 3.85 percent in Fort Collins and 0.6 percent in Larimer County — also would apply. Local governments would also have the option of charging an additional local tax to provide for the cost of enforcing the new law. Those counties and municipalities that choose not to ban retail marijuana shops will be entitled to a share of the 10 percent special sales tax that the referendum proposes to impose on marijuana sales. Some proponents and opponents of legal marijuana stand together in support of the tax, which would fund regulatory enforcement of the new law. If the tax fails, those efforts could be a drain on other state services, including public schools. Critics worry that consumers of marijuana could pursue it on the black market if they find the rate of taxation to be too high.


A referred measure proposing a shift in how public funds are distributed to schools and a companion initiative expected to seek about $1 billion annually in new taxes to fund schools also are progressing toward the statewide ballot. The changes in how schools are financed would give greater weight to factors such as student populations that come from lower-income homes and whose first language is not English. Among its myriad proposals are a new pool of grant funds for charter schools, more money for preschool and kindergarten programs, and a shake-up of state and local contributions to school funding based on districts’ means. The referred measure stops short of determining how to fund the changes, but it can’t be implemented unless voters approve the new taxes, which could come in the form of sales tax, property tax or both. Once the proposed tax structure is settled, signature gathering for the initiative will begin. In order to reach the ballot, about 86,000 signatures must be collected by Aug. 1.


The Larimer Humane Society hopes to ask voters for an additional 1-cent tax on a $10 purchase for up to six years to pay for a new $14.9 million home. Supporters of the campaign are gathering signatures, with a target of more than 11,000 by the July 18 deadline. Currently, a $100 purchase after taxes costs $107.35 in Fort Collins and $104.45 in unincorporated Larimer County. If the tax passes, those after-tax prices would increase to $107.45 in the city and $104.55 in the county.

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