Santa Barbara County is anticipating a $6 million shortfall in its predicted cannabis cultivation tax revenue for this fiscal year, thanks to an oversupply of wholesale cannabis in California and the resulting price decrease. “We overestimated revenues by almost 30 percent this year, and we don’t want to be in a position where there’s that much volatility,” County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato told the Board of Supervisors during an April 14 budget hearing.
At the tail end of the board’s budget discussions that day, 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino asked fellow board members if they’d consider potentially changing the county’s cultivation tax structure. He said that while cannabis tax revenue rises and falls, the county needs a more stable, permanent source of funding.
“If you look at the cannabis tax right now, what it is paying for: it’s $2.5 million going into the maintenance fund, it is providing the increase for those folks that do in-home health supportive services, it’s proving almost $800,000 in library funding, $3.5 million to the co-response program, homeless operating costs, the voter choice act, our translation services. It’s being used as kind of a catch-all, which is what it should be,” Lavagnino said.
“But when we analyze this a little more, we’re finding out that while good actors are paying their fair share, the system that we’ve set up might be a little bit porous for those that find a way to manipulate the system,” he continued.
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