Voters back marijuana fee, elect four to town board
Sam Green/Cortez Journal
Voters elected Anthony Maestas, Will Stone, Alan Rolston and Michele Black as the new town trustees, according to unofficial results.
The town administrator was pleased with a strong turnout of 42 percent of the voters or about 280 ballots returned out of about 657. It was a quiet day at Town Hall with only about 20 people coming by to drop-off ballots. This was the first mail-in election that the town has done.
"I'm very pleased with the high turnout. I'm excited to work with new board to address community issues," said Town Administrator Andrea Phillips.
Voters also placed their seal of approval on additional recreational marijuana fees with a landslide vote of 206-66.
The ballot measure will allow the town board to place a fee of up to $10 on recreational marijuana purchases.
The new trustees will be sworn in April 9.
Black, Maestas and Rolston will serve four-year terms. Black received 156 votes, Rolston brought in 132, Maestas received 117, and Stone got 114.
Stone will serve a two-year term because he is filling a seat that was appointed during the last term and because he received the fourth-highest number of votes. Normally, only three seats are up for re-election at a time.
It is now up to these four to help the board decide how the marijuana fee will be levied.
Now that voters have approved the board's ability to impose a fee, it could take affect as early as January 2015.
Phillips will ask the board for direction on the fee.
A moratorium on the sale of recreational marijuana is still in place until June and could be extended by the board.
However, at a March forum, all the board candidates voiced support for the increased tax revenue that the sale of marijuana could bring in.
"Tax dollars are tax dollars," newly elected trustee Michele Black said.
The newly elected board members face multifaceted challenges including declining sales tax revenues and many needed infrastructure improvements. They are also jumping into several solutions already in progress.
The town is just starting the process of replacing water meters, water lines and the water storage tank, among other needed improvements. These improvements are estimated to cost $2.9 million.
Board members have been considering a vendor for water meters for several months.
At the March candidate forum, all the candidates agreed that infrastructure was one of the biggest issues facing the town.
In order to fund the improvements, economic diversification is necessary, said former Mayor Pro Tem Perry Lewis.
Many of the candidates during the forum mentioned drawing in more tourists from the highway to improve the local economy.
Re-elected board member Alan Rolston said that figuring out a way to draw in just 5 percent of the cars that pass through the intersection would solve the problem.
"We'd have the business we need," he said.
The board has been working on hiring a part-time economic development coordinator.
Another problem the candidates identified during the forum was the need to offer more opportunities to young people.
Black suggested a creating a teen center to give young people more to do.