Pubdate: Mon, 02 May 2016
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2016 The Denver Post Corp
Author: John Aguilar


County Ran into City Pushback on Authority to Levy on a Single Product

Adams County's voter-sanctioned special tax on recreational marijuana 
sales, which went into effect last summer, was no easy thing.

Three cities - Northglenn, Aurora and Commerce City - sued the 
county, claiming that it didn't have the authority under state law to 
levy a tax on a single product. Coupled with their own municipal 
taxes on pot, they argued that an additional county levy would put 
retail pot stores in their jurisdictions at a competitive 
disadvantage to others.

When a judge ruled in Adams County's favor last fall, Commissioner 
Eva Henry knew right away who would benefit from the additional revenues.

"Before we put it on the ballot, we had a conversation about putting 
it toward education," she said.

And so the county has - recently devoting $ 516,718 from the 3 
percent sales tax to fund four-year scholarships for 50 low-income 
Adams County students.

The county aims to ultimately fund college scholarships through the 
Adams County Scholarship Fund to the tune of $ 1 million. The county 
has so far collected just over a half-million dollars from seven 
shops since July 1.

Students in the free and reduced lunch program will be eligible to 
apply for one of the four-year scholarships, which range in value 
from $ 2,500 to $ 7,600 annually.

"Not only does it change the life of a child, it changes the life of 
their families," Henry said.

The commissioners said in a statement that less than 31 percent of 
Adams County residents hold at least an associate degree, the lowest 
percentage of any county in the Denver area and among the lowest in the state.

Commissioner Steve O' Dorisio said the scholarships could make all 
the difference for families weighing the cost of higher education.

"It's common for these high-achieving students to pass on pursuing 
their goals and professional dreams because of the cost of higher 
education," he said. "This scholarship fund will help eliminate that barrier."

Henry said there is no irony in funding education from proceeds made 
on the sale of a substance thatwas largely illegal in Colorado less 
than four years ago.

"I don't think marijuana is ever going to go away," she said. "We 
might as well provide good things from this industry."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom