HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Councillor Wants Numbers On Cost Of Pot Legalization For City
Pubdate: Wed, 03 Jan 2018
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 The Hamilton Spectator
Contact:  http://www.thespec.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/181
Author: Carmela Fragomeni
Page: A3

COUNCILLOR WANTS NUMBERS ON COST OF POT LEGALIZATION FOR CITY

Coun. Sam Merulla wants to head off new local taxpayer costs to cover
increased bylaw and policing enforcement - and public health services
- - from legalized pot well before legalization happens this summer.

"Fifty per cent of what we tax for now has nothing to do with city
council," he said, adding that much of it is a result of services once
funded by the province being downloaded onto municipalities.

Merulla has put councillors on notice that he's introducing a motion
at their Jan. 24 meeting to get city staff to find out the city's
costs of implementing marijuana legalization - and ask the province
for a commitment to fully cover those costs. The province is getting a
windfall in marijuana sales taxes after all, he says.

"It's important to be proactive, rather than reactive.

"We now have no understanding of how the province plans to fund the
increased demands on public health, police and bylaw enforcements," he
said. "We need to be ahead of the curve."

He's hoping his motion will not only provide an understanding of the
impact on local taxes, but will also be a catalyst for the province to
devise a formula to fund the municipal costs tied to
legalization.

Merulla has no idea what the costs to Hamilton will be. But when told
The Calgary Herald last month reported Calgary's mayor expects
legalized pot to cost his city more than $10 million a year, Merulla
said "Wow. Calgary's double our size, but that's pretty staggering
though."

If Hamilton's costs, adjusted for size, are comparable to Calgary's,
it would mean about a one-and-a-half per cent property tax increase in
this city just for legalization impacts, Merulla said.
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MAP posted-by: Matt