The Will County Board is expected to make big decisions on recreational marijuana regulation and a new countywide gas tax by the end of the year.
County Board Speaker Denise Winfrey, D-Joliet, said that the board won’t actually vote on whether to opt out of allowing commercial sales of recreational marijuana in unincorporated areas this year. She said board members will instead vote on zoning rules for where to allow sales and whether to tax marijuana sales.
Winfrey said implementing zoning and taxing regulations will give the board some control over possible marijuana sellers wanting to set up shop in unincorporated parts of the county once the recreational use of the drug becomes legal in Illinois on Jan. 1.
“It does allow us to manage applications that come forward,” she said.
The County Board Land Use & Development Committee will discuss possible zoning regulations for marijuana sales at its Nov. 12 meeting at 10:30 a.m., but will not vote.
There will then be a public hearing at the County Board’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19, regarding recreational marijuana sales.
The Land Use & Development Committee will further discuss zoning at its Dec. 10 meeting, again at 10:30 a.m., and is then expected to vote.
The County Finance Committee will have a public hearing at 10 a.m. Dec. 3 to discuss taxes on recreational marijuana sales. County governments can impose a 3% tax on recreational marijuana sales in municipalities that allow them and a 3.75% tax in unincorporated areas.
Both matters would then go before the full board to vote on at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 19.
Winfrey said the board will then likely vote on an opt-out ordinance, which, if approved, would ban the sale of recreational marijuana, at its January meeting. She said by that time, the state legislature is expected to have passed any more legislation clarifying issues municipalities and law enforcement still had after the original marijuana legalization bill was passed.
A proposed countywide gas tax will also be on the board’s December agenda. The board has been debating a 4- to 8-cent gas tax on all types of motor fuel.
The county’s Public Works & Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on the gas tax before voting on it at its Dec. 5 meeting at 9 a.m. The full County Board will then vote on the gas tax at its Dec. 19 meeting.
Both the Public Works and Finance committees have already discussed a gas tax. Several board members have also held town hall meetings about the gas tax over the past two months.