Indy marijuana taxes higher than expected

INDEPENDENCE — Business Manager Gloria Butsch presented the findings of the Independence audit and quarterly report at the Jan. 23 council meeting.

The main points about the audit were that the city was ending the year with $3.8 million in cash, of which $1.5 million is unrestricted, Butsch said.

Property tax collections grew about 5 percent, or $130,000; overall spending decreased by about $175,000; and city contributions to Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System remain a concern, she added.

For the quarterly report, Butsch said the city’s finances remain about normal from year to year.

“We’re at 93 percent of our property taxes (collected),” she said. “We get those toward the beginning of November.”

Another source of revenue is exceeding expectations: marijuana tax.

“We are experiencing a good turn of marijuana taxes,” Butsch told the council. “We’re at 73 percent of what we anticipated for the year. I expect those to be more than we anticipated.”

The residents of Independence approved a 3 percent city sales tax on recreational marijuana sold in the city.

The city’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

In his report, City Manager David Clyne reviewed the methods the city uses to maintain transparency and communications with the city’s residents.

“We are livestreaming our council meetings,” he said. “They can stay home and watch us.”

Council meetings also are on YouTube, Clyne said. The city has at least four Facebook pages, he added.

“Clearly there’s a following of what we’re doing,” he said.

The city maintains a Twitter account and a smartphone app called Indy Works that allows residents to report anything from noise or vegetation complaints to a broken sign or pot hole.

Users of the app get updates on the progress made regarding their complaint, Clyne said.

People can sign up and “get emails of agendas at the same time the council sees it,” Clyne said. “That’s very transparent in my opinion.”

Clyne mentioned the new Open Indy portal, found on the city’s website, where residents may dig deeper into the finances of the city in an understandable format.

“We do a newsletter in both English and Spanish,” he said.

Clyne also mentioned the Latino community liaison, targeted to the Latino community.

Clyne also talked about Independence Landing, which will now be referred to as “The Landing.”

The council approved selling the old city hall property to the new developer of Independence Station.

“Whatever we can do to finish that facility, we want to do,” Clyne said. “That’s the bigger fish to fry.”

The city hall property will be used for a craft pub. The company will repave the parking lot and build new sidewalks, Clyne said. The city will pay the company about $300,000 of the $350,000 purchase price.

In other business, Mayor John McArdle proclaimed Feb. 10 as “Smart Rural Community and Smart Reader Day.”

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