AVON — Taxes were the talk of two issues examined by the Town Council on Tuesday.
And while the town separately examined those issues — a tax increase on the November ballot and the question of retail marijuana — the council saw them blend before their very eyes during the public comments period.
“Any sort of taxes, like the rec center or anything like that, that are requested of us to pay more money in taxes is unacceptable until Amendment 64 is on the community floor,” said Avon resident Jamie Arellano. “It’s a great place right there for us to generate money.”
At their regular meeting Aug. 13, the Avon Town Council passed the first reading of a motion of put a moratorium on retail marijuana until Sept. 1, 2014. As it stands, retail marijuana licenses for non-medical shops won’t be issued by the state until Oct. 1, 2014.
Regardless, the first reading of the Sept. 1, 2014, moratorium was enough to aggravate marijuana advocates like Arellano, whose impassioned speeches had the council thinking twice about the issue.
As the state will begin accepting applications from anyone interested in seeking a retail marijuana license on July 1, 2014, councilman Dave Dantis suggested the moratorium be pushed up to June 1, 2014, to give potential applicants a chance to prepare.
The date amendment was made, and the motion passed 6-1, with councilman Jake Wolf casting the dissenting vote.
“Seventy-two percent of this town said ‘yes,’” he said. “ ... To say to somebody who could bring us potentially a ton of tax revenue, which, no pun intended, has been going up in smoke anyway with all the things we’ve been doing in this town, why not let it come from smoke?”
Wolf also cast the lone dissenting vote Tuesday on the second reading of a motion to send a property tax increase to the ballot, saying he didn’t like the notion that the town council sending something to the ballot implies they support the measure.
“Generally when counties and cities put something on the ballot the interest is to get it passed,” said Town Manager Virginia Egger.
“It sounds to me like we’re influencing the ballot,” said Wolf.
On a house valued at $300,000 the town’s plan is to collect an extra $2.84, on top of an existing $6.02 set to drop off next year, for a net tax of $8.86 per month from Avon homeowners.
On a commercial property valued at $300,000, the increase would be an extra $7.91 per month, on top of an existing $21.45 set to drop off next year, for a net tax of $29.36 per month.
The plan is to raise a total of $12.4 million over the course of 30 years to pay for improvements to the town’s rec center, parking, parks and other recreational amenities.
But, as stated by town staff at the meeting, passing the issue could also free up money in the general fund for something like a stage at Nottingham Park.
“If this passes it frees up capital improvements so much it gives us some flexibility,” said town attorney Eric Heil.
As the motion passed 6-1 on second reading, the tax increase will definitely head to the ballot for voters to decide in November.