In Trumansburg, Village Mayor Rordan Hart said the village board decided back in September not to opt out and has not given much thought to the matter since—nor has the board heard a peep out of the public for or against it, he added.
There was no desire among any members of the Trumansburg Village Board of Trustees to discuss the possibility of opting out—they decided the board’s time would be better spent on other issues, Hart said.
The sales tax revenue could be meaningful for the village, Hart said, and the legalization of dispensaries could be addressed in the village’s site plan, which is currently under review and revision.
Hindsight is 20/20, the mayor said. “If we opt out without much public input and year-one sales see a massive tax number, in hindsight we’ll say, ‘why did we opt out and miss out,’” he explained. “If sales are paltry and there are problems everywhere, people will ask, ‘why didn’t we opt out?’”
“The reality is, Trumansburg has a significant number of bars and restaurants, and that’s part of what makes it as vibrant as it is, so we’re not strangers to regulating that kind of establishment through our zoning. I’m confident we’ll be able to,” Hart added. He also said he believes it will be two years at the minimum before New York State sets all of its regulations and dispensaries start popping up in small communities.
He said marijuana dispensaries may likely be treated similarly to bars, in which case would-be establishments would have to go through the regulatory equivalent of the the State Liquor Authority, where “the rules are well formed,” Hart said, “and that authority has a lot of teeth to it.”
The surrounding Town of Ulysses recently joined Trumansburg in its decision, choosing not to opt out as well.
“We discussed it, and there was no one that wanted to move forward to have a public law,” said Nancy Zahler, Town of Ulysses Supervisor.
She said that marijuana would become easily accessible in the neighboring communities that also decided not to opt out (including Trumansburg). She said the state would likely require an application and a background check, and that applicants would not be required to get permission from the town but that the town would need to be notified about new cannabis businesses moving in.
“We may want to revisit our zoning,” she said, adding that the town board will begin the process of updating the town’s comprehensive plan in 2022.
Like Hart, Zahler said she did not hear a strong opinion on the matter from residents.
She said that although Ulysses has a very small business district, leaders from neighboring communities have voiced enthusiasm regarding feedback they have gotten from potential new business owners. There has even been informal talk of a “weed trail” that would be similar to the area’s famed Wine Trail. “It would be something for people to go from one facility to the next with designated drivers and enjoy the area,” Zahler said.
The way the taxation breaks down, users will pay a 13% sales tax. Nine percent will go to New York State, and 4% will be shared locally. Twenty-five percent of that 4% will stay in the county, and 75% will be divided among municipalities based on local sales. If the Village of Trumansburg has sales, a town-village agreement will be needed or revenue is shared 50-50. If there are sales in the town outside the village the revenue will remain in the town.
“We made our decision, and if there is anybody who actually sells in the town outside of the village then we will capture that revenue,” Zahler explained.
She does think town officials should give some thought to potential unintended consequences.
“I personally have some concerns about underage use and easy access,” she said. “It’s something I want to track in our community.” She added that in the future Ulysses Town Board members may want to consider dedicating some portion of the proceeds to programs that can respond to substance abuse among young people.