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High-energy use tax in Humboldt County moves forward to sub-committee

HUMBOLDT COUNTY -On Wednesday the Humboldt County Supervisors voted unanimously to send the high-energy use tax proposal back to a sub-committee to gather more research. The tax is targeted at those growing marijuana illegally and using excessive amounts of energy above the 600 percent baseline.
 
Some of the concerns by staff include cost, a time frame in which the tax would be put onto the ballot, and whether or not the tax would be framed as a general purpose tax or a special tax. Since Arcata's high-use energy tax went into effect last fall, city officials say there has been a 91 percent decrease in accounts that once exceeded the 600 percent baseline. 
 
A recent PG&E study showed a 45 percent tax rate on residential customers in unincorporated areas could have generated millions of dollars in revenue in 2013, but the board says it is not so much about revenue, but more about the impacts illegal growing has on the community.
 
District 5 Supervisor Ryan Sundberg said, “A legitimate reason why we are bringing this forward is because it affects the housing stock, and the environment. There are some high impacts of intense growing in neighborhoods and I think what our board is trying to do is deal with a marijuana policy that affects how people live.” 
 
The proposed tax would cover only the unincorporated areas of the county and if passed could possibly be seen on the 2016 ballot.