County joins rush to tax retail marijuana sales

By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
Posted 1/25/23

HERMANN – Gasconade County government Thursday officially gave notice that, too, would be seeking a sales tax on marijuana, joining many other counties and cities throughout the state looking …

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County joins rush to tax retail marijuana sales


HERMANN – Gasconade County government Thursday officially gave notice that, too, would be seeking a sales tax on marijuana, joining many other counties and cities throughout the state looking to cash in on the legalization of pot.

Because it is a new item to be taxed, county government officials have no idea what to expect in terms of revenue. “Let’s just collect it this year” and see what kind of revenue will be produced, suggested County Clerk Lesa Lietzow, the county’s chief elections official.

The passage in November of Amendment 3, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana, contained a provision that allows counties and cities to seek voter approval of a 3-percent sales tax. Amendment 3 automatically approved a whopping 6-percent state sales tax on the product.

The city of Owensville reportedly was set last week to put on the April 4 ballot a 3-percent sales tax issue. It was unclear whether Hermann would be asking voters to approve a sales tax. Earlier this month a city official told the Gasconade County Republican the city’s aldermen were going to take a “wait-and-see” approach before seeking a vote.

While Gasconade County voters in November overwhelmingly rejected the legalization of marijuana, county administrators are hoping they are willing to approve the proposed tax. Northern District Associate Commissioner Jim Holland, R-Hermann, noted the irony of government’s position regarding cannibis. “Who would have thought 10 years ago with the war on drugs (that) we’d be here” looking to tax the legal sales of marijuana, he said at Thursday’s County Commission session. “But it’s all about the money,” he said.

If marijuana becomes subject to the new state, county and municipal sales taxes, and if sales is subject to the various existing state, county and municipal sales taxes, the product likely would become one of the highest-taxed products sold at retail – considering that some cities, including Hermann and Owensville, already have sales tax rates approaching 10 cents per dollar.

Meanwhile, Holland Thursday morning mentioned the recent death of former Hermann Mayor Tom Shabel. The Marine who served in Vietnam and was a Purple Heart recipient, died early Friday, Jan. 13, from complications following surgery.

The Commission noted that retired insurance agent Duane Kraettli has been named a for-profit representative of Gasconade County on the Meramec Regional Planning Commission Board of Directors, replacing his brother, Ron Kraettli.

County administrators are scheduled to meet in special session Tuesday, Jan. 31, to sign off on this year’s operating budget. Third-Class counties have until the end of January to adopt an operating budget, which will allow county government to begin paying its bills again in February. No checks are written in January while administrators craft an operating budget.

A big part of the new budget will be the portion of General Fund revenue going to the Gasconade County Sheriff’s Department. Lietzow said much time was devoted to carving out the department’s share of $769,000 in General Fund money, which will be supplemented by most of the estimated $1 million generated by the half-cent sales tax for law enforcement. That tax is split 75-25 between the county and five of the six municipalities in the county.

“We spent all afternoon on that yesterday,” Lietzow told the Commission, referring to the effort by her office and Sheriff Scott Eiler to iron out the details of his agency’s spending plan.

County officials will be able to do better toward county employees than first thought. It appears this year’s budget will contain a pay raise of 5 percent for county government employees. Administrators began the budget process with a 3-percent figure in mind. It has been a policy of the Commission to allow individual officeholders to divide the office’s share of the pay raise among its employees.

Regarding the Sheriff’s Department, the Commission is holding firm on its call for a deputy sheriff being stationed at the courthouse’s main entrance every day, not just on the days courts are in session. That deputy will be assigned to the courthouse Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.


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