‘Unlike Washington, D.C.’: Springfield mayor, city councilors praise compromise reached on marijuana
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SPRINGFIELD — Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and city councilors on Tuesday touted a compromise that will result in a significant amount of tax revenues from marijuana retail sales being set aside in a special fund for neighborhood needs.
Sarno, in a prepared release, said the two sides compromised on the amount that will be set aside in the new Impacted Neighborhood Stabilization Fund.
“I’m always glad to work with anyone for the overall good of our City, especially for our neighborhoods," Sarno said. “I remain hopeful that, unlike Washington, D.C., we can go back to a time when politicians could disagree without demonizing each other and find ways to build relationships and work together despite our differences for the good of our Springfield."
Under the compromise, 33 percent of the funds received by the city from a 3 percent retail sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products will go into the new Neighborhood Stabilization fund, Sarno and councilors said. Taxes from each retail shop will be directed to neighborhoods within 1.5 miles of the shops and for “disproportionately impacted neighborhoods” as defined by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.
On Dec. 17, the council voted to allot 50 percent of the revenue to the neighborhood fund, with the remaining balance going to the general city budget. Sarno immediately vetoed the council vote, which was followed by discussions between the mayor, administration officials and representatives of the council that resulted in the negotiated agreement.
The Impacted Neighborhood Stabilization Fund will be directed to educational and recreational programming for youth and adults, neighborhood business incentives, infrastructure improvements and recreational and community sites, city officials said.
City Council President Justin Hurst first revealed the compromise on Monday when he was elected to lead the council by colleagues. In those discussions, councilors were pushing for 35 percent of the revenues to go to the neighborhood fund while Sarno was holding at 30 percent.
The compromise of 33 percent followed, Hurst said during his speech as the new president.
The formal announcement came Tuesday with Sarno praising Hurst and Councilors Jesse Lederman and Melvin Edwards for their work in pursuing the compromise.
Hurst said the compromise "is a great way to start the new year."
“I’m confident that this is one of many things that we will be able work together on, and both the mayor and Councilor Lederman should be commended for their efforts,” Hurst said. "Ensuring that neighborhoods reap the benefits from this new industry is important to all of us, and the creation of this fund is a direct result of government working together for the best interest of the citizens we served.
Lederman and Edwards joined in praising the compromise.
“This will ensure neighborhoods, especially those most impacted and historically impacted, benefit directly from this new source of revenue,” Lederman said.
“We want residents to see the benefits of this new industry,” Edwards said. “I am encouraged by this collaboration of our two branches of government and look forward to seeing the benefits this fund will bring to our communities.”