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Council braves weather to make pot tax deadline

Despite late openings and early closures of some Lebanon city services because of nasty weather, the scheduled City Council meeting was held as planned Wednesday, Dec. 14.

One of the reasons for that decision, said City Manager Gary Marks, was a state deadline for a marijuana tax collection agreement.

“If the council hadn’t acted tonight, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” he said. “We’d be collecting our own tax. So that was part of the urgency for tonight. Just so you know.”

City attorney Tre Kennedy presented a form of the intergovernmental agreement between the Oregon Department of Revenue and a local government entity along with an FAQ sheet from the League of Oregon Cities.

The FAQ addressed questions, such as the timing of payments, cost to the local government, and the city’s responsibilities.

“This office and (the city of Lebanon) Finance have reviewed both and believe it would be beneficial for the city to move forward with a proposed IGA that would be presented to the Council at a later date,” Kennedy said in his memo.

He said the Department of Revenue was very efficient.

“I take a little exception to how efficient the state of Oregon might be, but I don’t know a better way to do it,” said Councilor Rebecca Grizzle.

“They’re pretty efficient at getting your money,” Kennedy responded.

He asked the councilors for a motion to authorize Marks to enter into the agreement.

It was unanimously approved.

Kennedy also presented an ordinance that dealt with the moratoriums previously placed on medical and recreational marijuana.

The ordinance was for house-keeping and to recognize and implement the City of Lebanon’s vote rejecting Local Measure 22-147.

It revokes LMC 5.5, “which codified the moratorium on medical marijuana facilities. It also revokes ordinance 2863 “which prohibited recreational marijuana, including producers, processors, wholesalers and retailers.”

The ordinance was approved and will be in effect in 30 days to give staff time to prepare and submit regulations relating to the licensing of recreational marijuana in Lebanon, according to the memo.

Community Development Director Walt Wendolowski said there already are rules in place for medical marijuana and the city will need to make amendments  to comply with voters’ approval of recreational marijuana.

“I’m working on some material that Tre (Kennedy) provided from the League of Oregon cities,” Wendolowski said. “I’ve also attended a legal issues conference that had quite a lot of discussion on that. We anticipate most of the rules will be similar in terms of location, hours of operation, need for licensing, etcetera.”

He said he will have amendments to address recreational marijuana in January.

“I would think that you wouldn’t have to reinvent this wheel,” Grizzle said.

“That is my sincerest hope,” he responded. “One of the first things I was taught when I started as a planner is always steal from the best.”

Councilor Robert Furlow asked Wendolowski if the city had received an inquiries from people wanting to start marijuana-related businesses in Lebanon.

“Very much so,” Wendolowski said. “I have at least one or two emails a day from people looking at properties. They want to know what the rules will be so there’s certainly some interest.”

In other business:

The council temporarily adjourned to convene as the Urban Renewal Agency. They approved an amendment to the economic development agreement with Samaritan Health.

“This is necessary because the funding at the time was very limited and, in effect, Samaritan fronted the money to make the improvements on the campus and over time the URD will pay them back,” Wendolowski said. “In this case, again, there is this agreement in place and both parties are asking the agency to modify that agreement.”

He said there are two minor changes, but one, is of great benefit to the city.

Samaritan Health requested the private street running north-south adjacent to the hotel and exending to North Fifth Street be included as a reimbursable expense.

The agency requested the loan interest rate, which was set between 4 and 8 percent, be set at 4.25 percent.

“We believe that we will be saving a considerable amount of money paying these folks back,” Wendolowski said.

The amendments were approved.