A marijuana leaf is held. (Photo: Nastasic, Getty Images)
Redding uses licensing fees paid by the city's cannabis industry to do the work and uses them to pay a raise for Redding's top two legal staff, who have additional duties as the city's cannabis industry expands.
In a 3-2 vote during their Tuesday evening session, the council changed District Attorney Barry DeWalt's annual salary by 10%. The council also voted to increase the pay and salary range for Assistant Attorney Jacob Baldwin by 10%.
Both increases will take effect from last Sunday and include the addition of tasks resulting from the restructuring of several city departments.
City administrator Barry Tippin said the increases were necessary as the city's regulators put more work into regulating the thriving cannabis industry. "What we've found over the past two years is that it took a lot of effort," said Tippin.
Actions related to “growing illegal cannabis” put a strain on prosecutors due to fines and hearings to enforce the rules and create more work for other City Hall employees.
As part of the reorganization, the code enforcement department was reassigned to the prosecutor, with the deputy city attorney now overseeing the staff in the four-person code enforcement department, according to the personnel report.
More: The public hearing on the cannabis business will be held Tuesday in front of the Redding Planning Commission
With these additional duties, Tippin said: "The payment offered did not reflect this additional responsibility."
The reorganization follows the departure of Development Services Director Larry Vaupel last month.
The 10% salary increase for the city attorney and assistant city attorney is $ 30,000 per year. According to Transparent California, DeWalt's annual salary in 2019 was $ 191,722. The current salary adjustment would increase DeWalt's annual salary to $ 207,708.80, according to the employee report.
The recommended increase amounts are consistent with "how we've treated these items in the past and represent a common increase related to promotions," said Tippin.
The money needed for the salary increases will come from licensing fees paid by cannabis companies, which pay about $ 30,000 a year to operate in the city, Tippin said. Money from fees for approving cannabis licenses is limited to use in connection with cannabis regulation activities, he said.
Councilor Kristen Schreder voted in favor of the measure, as did Councilors Erin Resner and Julie Winter. "I think it's a really great idea. I think this is a cost-effective way to solve a problem we have with enforcing the code," said Schreder.
Councilor Michael Daquisto voted against the measure, saying that prosecutors had not been given enough new duties to warrant an increase. "I think they are essentially doing the job already," Daquisto said.
Mayor Adam McElvain also voted no, saying a decision on the increases should be made in six months "to make sure the transition works and that it is effective."
A new report suggests that increased cannabis and hemp production could help save marginal bee species.
In another action, the council unanimously voted Tuesday to use money from cannabis sales taxes, another growing area, to buy four new engines for the city's fire department.
"We urgently need to replace these fire engines," said Tippin. "Even with this purchase of four … it will get us a long way, but we need more in the next few years."
He said $ 1.5 million of the expected money from cannabis sales tax will be used to purchase the fire equipment. "We're pretty sure right now that the cannabis tax will be over $ 1.5 million, likely $ 2 million or more," Tippin said.
The city's share of taxes levied by cannabis companies is already on track to surpass the amount levied last year.
Cannabis tax revenue for the fiscal year ended June was $ 793,948. To date, the city has raised $ 404,029 in the current fiscal year, which began in July, Redding chief financial officer Allyn Feci Clark said on Sept. 19.
Redding now has two cannabis growing companies, while five cannabis retailers have opened in Redding since the city granted approval to operate cannabis businesses from 2018. More cannabis companies are preparing to open.
Michele Chandler covers city government and housing issues for the Redding Record Searchlight / USA Today Network. Follow her on Twitter at @MChandler_RS, call her at 530-225-8344, or email [email protected] Please support our entire newsroom's commitment to public service journalism by signing up today.
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