“So, we’re gonna be okay, is that right?” asked Mr. Al Segalla, President for Life of the Calaveras Taxpayers Association.
The date was February 27, the occasion was the regularly scheduled Calaveras County Board of Supervisors meeting. Mr. Segalla and others in attendance had just heard the CAO run through a startlingly upbeat mid-year budget projection, one that predicted a nine million dollar ($9,000,000) “cash-carry” — that is, a nine-million-dollar budget surplus from the previous year. The bulk of the surplus is from Measure C funds, the tax on commercial marijuana that voters overwhelmingly passed in 2016.
Although not explicitly asked, and certainly not answered by the CAO, Mr. Segalla, given more time, may have asked, “so, without Measure C funds, is the County budget sustainable in the long run?”
In light of the Supervisor’s reversing policy and placing a ban commercial marijuana in Calaveras County, this would seem to be, pardon the expression, the nine-million-dollar question in Calaveras politics today.
Candidates running for Supervisor in Calaveras County, and by November that number could be in the hundreds, will need to be prepared to deal with this question. And it isn’t much fun. As a general rule, candidates don’t like to talk about budgets, and budget priorities, because the issues are complicated, and chances are whatever you say is going to offend some vital constituency or be hopelessly wrong. And budgets are dull. Really, the only reason the issue is interesting in this election is because of the passions generated by the issue of marijuana – commercial, recreational, medicinal, whatever.
Does Calaveras County pencil out without Measure C tax money? Candidates may choose from three possible answers:
- Oh hell, who knows?
And as interesting as this question is, there is another 300-pound gorilla in the politics of the budget: apparently, one year of Measure C taxes is enough to fund the Government for what, three years? Or just two? Of course, this is only as long as we don’t fund IHHS – God forbid we actually help old people, but I digress.
What is all too apparent is that taxing commercial marijuana for just one year was a gold mine for Calaveras County taxpayers and citizens. And just imagine what we could have done with another nine million this year? And another nine million the next year? Besides not facing a potential fiscal catastrophe in two or three years, we really could enhance services for senior citizens – and maybe even do something about our bridges and roads.
Or not. Maybe that’s all just hooey. Just “smoke dreams.”
But politically speaking, the public record pretty much now begs this question of all candidates running for office in this County: Are we gonna be okay? For how long?
This story was edited April 8, 2018 for clarity.