Winfield leaning toward 'yes' to recreational pot sales
With Winfield facing budget challenges over the next few years, officials say they can't afford to say "no" to allowing recreational marijuana sales.
Trustees are expected to vote in the next few weeks on an ordinance to allow businesses to sell marijuana under Illinois' Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which will make recreational use and possession by adults legal across the state beginning Jan. 1.
If approved, the ordinance would allow dispensaries in commercial areas along Roosevelt Road, North Avenue and St. Charles Road. They wouldn't be permitted in Town Center and officials are still debating whether to allow them along Geneva Road.
Village President Erik Spande said he's "extremely confident" the ordinance will be approved.
"There will be a potential home for a dispensary in Winfield," he said.
Spande said the move is motivated by the need for additional sales tax revenue.
"I personally do not advocate or support the use of recreational marijuana," Spande said. "So if I had my druthers, I would say 'no.' But I have to put my personal feelings aside because the village needs the revenue to support services."
Spande said Winfield has a roughly $5 million general fund -- the portion of the budget that pays for salaries and operating expenses.
Roughly $500,000 of that comes from a red-light camera at the intersection of Winfield and Roosevelt roads. But Spande said that camera is expected to go away when the state rebuilds the intersection. There's also a chance state lawmakers will ban red-light cameras.
"Regardless of what happens, we're going to lose 10% of our general fund in the next couple of years," he said.
Another financial concern is that a yearly $900,000 grant from Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital is set to expire in 2021.
CDH awards the grant to compensate Winfield for the services it provides to the tax-exempt institution. But it's yet to be determined whether the deal will be renewed.
"Even though we're in a good financial position now," Spande said, "we're always very concerned about making sure we can keep our service levels where they are."
Under the state law, towns that permit dispensaries are allowed to place local sales taxes of up to 3% on such sales. Spande said the village would impose the full 3%.
"If we're going to do it, we're all in," he said.
In addition, Winfield receives a 1% state sales tax and a 0.5% nonhome-rule sales tax. As a result, the village could receive a total sales tax of 4.5% on gross recreational cannabis sales.
If Winfield allows the sales, officials estimate the village could collect $400,000 to $500,000 a year in additional tax revenue.
"The financial reality is such that we feel like we have to proceed," Spande said.
The village held a public hearing in September to gather resident input. The plan and zoning commission held a public hearing last month before recommending text amendments regarding cannabis businesses. As part of Winfield's proposed ordinance, dispensaries would be required to get special use permits.