Hill County Commission Hits Snag in Effort to Put Marijuana Tax on Ballot

HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) – The Hill County Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to approve a resolution that will ask voters to approve a three percent excise tax on medical and recreational sales of marijuana.

However, Clerk and Recorder Sue Armstrong stated that because the resolution did not include the language that will appear on the general election ballots, the Commission will need to hold another vote by August 15th.

Commissioner Jake Strissel drafted the resolution and says they intend to put one question on the ballot asking voters to approve a tax on both medicinal and recreational marijuana sales, instead of splitting the issues up into separate votes.

The County Commission has stated their intent to place a resolution on the upcoming general election ballot for months, but never cast a vote on the matter until Thursday.

The County Commission has stated they intend to hold public hearings to discuss the ballot measure on September 13th and October 4th.

If approved, the tax could be implemented 90 days following the election.

The draft resolution itself was amended during Thursday’s meeting while a motion was on the floor. The initial resolution was voted down 3-0 in order to approve the amended resolution, which passed, 3-0. The amendments slightly changed the wording on the resolution to state that the County Commission, such as clarifying the language to state that it is the job of the Commission to provide the Clerk and Recorder with notice of the hearings, make copies of the resolution available to the public, and accept public comments on the proposed tax. Initially, the resolution said these duties were all on the Clerk and Recorder.

“I think it’s more important that (the public) comes to you guys, not to me,” said Clerk and Recorder Sue Armstrong.

The resolution number was also changed in the amended resolution to conform with the County numbering system.

The Commission’s vote on ballot language for the proposed tax is expected to come at next Thursday’s weekly business meeting.

“Did you read what you are going to put on the ballot?” Armstrong said to the Commission after a motion to approve the revised resolution was put on the floor. “You will do a separate one?”

“I was going to ask you that question,” Commission Chair Diane McLean responded. “Does it need to be on the resolution?”

“I don’t know if it needs to, but usually, when you do, like, a mill levy, or something, it’s all on that resolution. Otherwise, you’ll have to do a separate one. Because I can’t put it on the ballot without the exact wording from you guys,” said Armstrong.

Once the meeting adjourned, Armstrong confirmed that the Commission will need to hold another vote approving the ballot language. She also said she was not given a copy of the draft resolution in advance of the vote.

The Hill County Commission has not yet stated how they intend to use revenue produced by the tax. Per State Law, 50 percent of revenue goes to the County, 45 percent goes to municipalities in the County, and the other five percent goes back to the Department of Revenue for administration costs.

Earlier this summer, voters in neighboring Blaine County overwhelmingly approved a tax on recreational and medicinal marijuana sales.

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