When Illinois rings in the New Year, the sale and use of recreational marijuana will become legal.
Many local governments are ready to cash in and the City of Rockford is no exception.
Rockford City Council passed a 3% tax on marijuana sales Monday evening.
Aldermen say it’s another way to fund city initiatives without upping taxes on residents but finance director Carrie Hagerty adds it’s too early to know exactly what the money will be used for.
“[It’s all] depending on what city council decides to do with that revenue, ultimately,” said Hagerty. “It can be used to balance future deficits.”
The funds are set to go into the city’s unrestricted general fund. 5th Ward Alderman Venita Hervey (D) says that can be changed in the future.
“By ordinance, we can restrict the cannabis money to say that this money must go to a particular use,” said Hervey.
Hagerty says the finance department has looked at revenue surveys from cities in Colorado but it’s still too early to say how much money the tax will bring to the city.
“We need more information before we can give city council any guidance on what they should expect moving forward,” said Hagerty.
Hervey says the city will be in dire need of additional dollars to deal with future budget deficits.
“Primarily the pension liability, is just mind-boggling,” said Hervey. “Any revenue can help.”
But the Fifth Ward leader adds with legalization comes possible costs elsewhere.
“Now you may have people driving while they’re under the effects of marijuana,” said Hervey. “What about addiction support services? Is that something that the city should look at the need to support.”
Hagerty says although many details haven’t been sorted out at the state level — the city wants to be prepared. Rockford has two dispensaries eligible for recreational licenses.
“That assumes that January 1st those facilities will be able to sell and we don’t know if the licenses will be granted at that time or not,” said Hagerty. “What we really want to do is be positioned to start collecting the tax as soon as those licenses are granted and those sales begin.”
Rockford city officials hope the final details of the marijuana bill will be sorted out at the State’s fall veto session.