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Pot tax approved
Preliminary election results showed the measure passing with 80 percent of the vote, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.
The dispensary tax was one of four measures in a vote-by-mail special election aimed at raising money for the cash-strapped city. All four measures won, but Measure F had the highest level of support.
Scheduled to take effect on New Year's Day, the measure created a special business tax rate for the pot clubs, which now pay the same $1.20 for every $1,000 in gross sales applied to all retail businesses. The new rate will be $18.
Oakland's auditor estimates that based on annual sales of $17.5 million for the four clubs, it will generate an estimated $294,000 for city coffers in its first year.
Pot club owners, who openly sell pot over the counter under the 1996 state ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana use in California, proposed Measure F as a way to further legitimize their establishments.
"It's good business and good for the community," said Richard Lee, who owns the Coffee Shop SR-71 dispensary and Oaksterdam University, a trade school for budding dispensary workers.
The measure had no formal opposition; in November 2004, a ballot initiative that required Oakland police to make arresting adults using marijuana for personal use their lowest priority passed with 63 percent of the vote.
Support for Measure F was expected to be just as strong. As a result and given the mail-in nature of the election, there was little campaign activity, according to Lee.
"We put out signs, but outside of that it's been pretty low-key," said Lee, who hosted a victory party at Oaksterdam University's Student Union building in downtown Oakland.
Although California's 800 or so pot clubs also are expected to pay state sales tax, Oakland is the first city in the country to create a special tax on marijuana sales.
Advocates of legalizing pot for recreational use hope to use Oakland's experience with Measure F to persuade California voters next year to approve a measure that would legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
City Council President Jane Brunner said last week the city is counting on all the measures passing because every dollar is precious in Oakland, where the council was forced to slash $83 million in funding so that its $414 million budget for fiscal 2010 is balanced.
Brunner said she was most interested in the fate of Measure D, which modifies a similar measure, called Kids First, which voters approved last year.
It would require the city to set aside 3 percent of its annual unrestricted general purpose fund revenues for grants to children and youth services.
Brunner said it is expected to raise about $3 million this year and up to $17 million in future years.
The measure appears to have passed with 71.5 percent of the vote, according to preliminary election results.
Measure C, the only measure that needs two-thirds approval, would increase Oakland's hotel tax by 3 percentage points, to 14 percent.
It's expected to generate an additional $2.8 million this year for a total of $12.9 million. Preliminary results indicate 76.6 percent of voters approved the measure.
Measure H would ensure that property transfer taxes be applied to properties that change hands, including those that are a results of mergers, acquisitions and other corporate ownership changes. The measure appears to have passed with 74.6 percent of the vote.
City officials estimate that it would generate $4.4 million in additional tax revenue.
Oakland residents have been turning in their ballots by mail or in person for the last several weeks.
According to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, the preliminary results do not include most ballots turned in Tuesday and official results are expected later this week.
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