Wauconda board considering 3% tax on marijuana sales

  • Wauconda officials may approve a 3% sales tax for marijuana at local dispensaries. None operate in the village now and officials have not yet decided whether to allow them.

    Wauconda officials may approve a 3% sales tax for marijuana at local dispensaries. None operate in the village now and officials have not yet decided whether to allow them. Associated Press file photo

 
 
Updated 9/30/2019 6:46 PM

Wauconda officials haven't yet decided if they'll allow marijuana sellers and related businesses geared toward recreational users to operate in town, but they don't want to miss out on potential sales tax revenue, either.

The village board Tuesday will consider approving a 3% tax on all marijuana-related sales other than those for medical purposes. Medical marijuana is subject to a 1% sales tax in Illinois.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The 3% tax would be effective Jan. 1, 2020. That's the day the possession or sale of relatively small amounts of marijuana becomes legal in Illinois, under a law approved this summer.

That law allows municipalities to impose a local tax of up to 3% on marijuana sales. Individual communities also can restrict or ban cannabis sales.

A majority of Wauconda trustees have said they're open to allowing pot businesses in town, but they haven't made a final decision.

Whereas people on both sides of the marijuana debate have packed board meetings in Mundelein, Naperville and other towns, there has been no significant public support or opposition in Wauconda.

Wauconda officials decided to put the sales tax proposal on Tuesday's agenda after a meeting of the Lake County Recreational Cannabis Model Zoning Ordinance Task Force. According to Wauconda Trustee Tim Howe, task force members said an ordinance would need to be approved by Monday to collect taxes on marijuana sales in 2020. But Illinois Department of Revenue officials say that's incorrect. Municipalities and counties have until June 1, 2020, to adopt ordinances and file them with the Department of Revenue if they want to start collecting taxes by Sept. 1, 2020.

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The information from the task force was based on a recommendation by the Illinois Municipal League, Lake County spokesman Alex Carr said. That recommendation anticipated an amendment to the law authorizing taxes on marijuana sales as of Jan. 1, Carr said.

Howe, who's been leading the debate as head of the board's economic development committee, said he isn't surprised by the confusion.

"It's a new frontier," Howe said. "We look at this as an education process -- for us, for our staff and for our residents."

Approving a sales tax rate doesn't lock Wauconda into allowing marijuana businesses. If the board opts to reject such operations, the tax rate would remain on the books but essentially would be irrelevant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Tuesday's meeting is set for 7 p.m. at village hall, 101 N. Main St.

Elsewhere, Mundelein trustees approved a 3% tax for recreational marijuana-related sales last week. The same night, the board voted to direct administrators to draft amendments to the village's zoning code that would allow such businesses to operate in town.

Buffalo Grove trustees established a 3% sales tax, too, but like their peers in Mundelein, they haven't yet decided if they'll allow marijuana sales.

Conversely, Long Grove, Grayslake and Lake Zurich are among the towns that have banned sales.

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