City looking at options for using marijuana tax revenue

Commissioner Rick Tryon asked staff during their Dec. 6 meeting to look at options for setting aside all future local option tax revenue on marijuana for public safety needs.

Initially he asked for an ordinance or resolution, but staff said there may be other ways to address that and they’d come back with options.

County sending local marijuana tax question to November ballot

In November, voters approved a 3 percent local option tax on marijuana sales in Cascade County.

That’s on top of the 20 percent state tax, that stays in the state coffers.

The local option tax goes into effect Feb. 6, 2023 and it will take some time for that revenue to make it’s way to the city.

Of the local option marijuana tax collected, the county will retain 50 percent, five percent will go to the Montana Department of Revenue and 45 percent goes to the municipalities in the county.

County considering local marijuana sales tax

According to the county, that would be split among the incorporated cities and towns based on the ratio of their population to the total county population. That would include the City of Great Falls, Belt, Cascade and Neihart.

Based on June marijuana sales in the county of $1,526,694.80, there would be a total tax revenue of $45,800.

Of that, the county would get 50 percent, or about $22,900.42 and the state takes their five percent.

First legal marijuana dispensary planned for west side of Great Falls

The county will determine how the remaining 45 percent is split.

Melissa Kinzler, city finance director, said they estimate the city would receive about $20,000 a month or about $240,000 per year.

The city’s general fund budget this year is $36 million and of that, $27.4 million were budgeted for police and safety. This year’s city tax revenue is projected at $22.9 million.

For comparison, a new fire engine costs an estimated $750,000 and an entry level police officer starting salary is $60,266.64.

The city is currently considering options for a public safety levy. Background and more information is here:

City considering $35 million public safety levy

City considering improvements to GFPD, GFFR; public safety levy