Farmersville, Woodlake Vote for Sales Tax Increase; Cannabis Business Taxation

Only two Tulare County cities had measures to vote upon on Nov. 7 – Farmersville and Woodlake. With 16% of registered voters in the combined cities making the decisions, both cities will see an increase in sales taxation come January, 2018; and both will be taxing potential cannabis businesses.

Through passage of Measure P in Farmersville, residents and visitors will see an additional ½ cent sales tax on purchases made within the city, bringing the sales tax percentage to 8.75. This could bring an estimated $280,000 into the city coffers annually.

“This will definitely flush the deficit for half of this year, and should keep us going for the next two to three years,” said Mayor Paul Boyers.

Measure Q authorizes “a commercial cannabis business tax in the city on commercial cannabis businesses up to $25 per square foot (annually adjusted by CPI) or 10% of gross receipts, to maintain essential public safety and general city services including, but not limited to, police, drug addiction and gang prevention, park maintenance, street maintenance,” according to the measure.

Farmersville Cannabis Ordinance

At the time of the election, no ordinance for cannabis businesses had been put into play by the city council. As of November 13, that changed.

With a 4-0 vote, Mayor Pro Tem Matt Sisk being absent, council passed an ordinance to allow the commercial cultivation and processing of the drug in industrial zones within the city. The ordinance bans, however, any dispensaries within city limits. As within the state ruling, the commercial businesses must be at least 600 feet from schools, school bus stops and churches, said Mayor Boyer, “which pretty much limits the area to be north of Terry Ave. up to Highway 198.

“Hopefully we’ll have some businesses interested.”

The ordinance disallows outdoor growth of cannabis plants, commercially or privately. This, Boyer said, will limit the temptation for jumping the fence to get to the product, as well as altercations between neighbors.

The mayor is glad that council did not vote to include dispensaries in the ordinance.

“I don’t see the cost benefits in that,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a good thing for the young folks to be around.”

However, “Honestly, I am ecstatic,” Boyer said of passage of the two measures. Everyone will benefit with public safety being at the top of the list.

Boyer’s visions for the future of the city are flourishing, with the possibilities of enhancing gang prevention and drug rehab programs, partnering with the school district for a summer swim program, and aiding the local Boys & Girls Club dancing in his head.

Woodlake Measures

Similarly, in Woodlake Measure R’s passage ups sales taxation by one percent, bringing it to 8.75% within that city, as well.

Measure S is similar in structure to Farmersville’s Measure Q, with the same taxation of cannabis businesses. However, in Woodlake, the city council passed an ordinance, in August, to not only allow cultivation and processing, but dispensaries and testing as well – which will receive the same taxation.

Like Farmersville, Woodlake held several public hearings on both issues.

“I am pleased voters had an opportunity to have a say with these matters,” Woodlake Mayor Rudy Mendoza said. “That’s what I call democracy in action.

“Unfortunately, a city of our size doesn’t have the benefit of a huge sales tax such as Visalia or Tulare.”

The city previously formed an advisory committee to look into how it would best benefit by the added income, Mendoza said. Public safety is at the top of the list followed by road improvements, infrastructure and recreational opportunities.

At its last city council meeting there was to be discussion on now forming an oversight committee, which would report back to council. For those who opposed either the sales tax increase or cannabis ordinance, this is a good chance to get involved and see how it works out, Mendoza said.

The cannabis ordinance is very intense and lengthy, he added. “It’s that way by design – to dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘t.’ This will help minimize the potential impact from allowing just anyone to come in with a business.”

Mendoza sees that, or lack thereof, as being the success or failure to other cities and counties around the state.

The cultivation cannabis application is 24 pages. The dispensary application is 21 pages. There is a $250 pre-application fee for any cannabis business.

Each applicant pays a hefty non-refundable application fee upon submission – $2,400 for cultivation, manufacturing, distribution or testing. These applications are to be renewed on an annual basis. Dispensary applicants pay an initial $537 phase 1 fee. If the background check meets with approval, then Phase 2 brings a $2,400 fee and a subsequent $816 fee, if the applicant moves on to final approval.

Each application will be considered on a case to case basis and the fees pay for the intensive work of city staff, Mendoza said. To date, the city has had two applicants for dispensaries and a handful for cultivation businesses. On top of this, once a business is accepted, each employee has to be permitted at $300/each.

For more information on the application and cannabis business in Woodlake, visit:

“We’re feeling pretty good about how we’ve handled the whole process,” Mendoza said.

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