The Trinity County Board of Supervisors last week finalized the county budget for 2019/20 in the amount of $131,375,953 including expected revenues and expenditures for all departments, enterprise funds, internal service funds and dependent districts. The total also includes a general contingency fund of $502,849 for unanticipated costs.

The final budget is the same that was presented to the board on Sept. 10 with only minor changes, and it was approved with little further discussion last Tuesday.

From the audience, Larry Winter of Hyampom questioned how much of the county’s general fund update account is coming from cannabis licensing fees paid by applicants to the program, noting that applicants are required to pay a general plan update fee each year as part of their license renewal costs.

“So I assume cannabis funds are fiscally beneficial to the county. Some say it has not been beneficial except to administer the cannabis program,” he said.

Sup. Keith Groves said there is currently a little more than $1 million in the general plan update fund, and probably as much as 85 percent of that has come from cannabis licensing fees. He added it is very high on new county Planning Director Kim Hunter’s list of priorities to start a request for proposals process at the first of the new year to engage a consultant to initiate that project.

“And that is a definite benefit to the county to have a general plan that is not out of the ‘70s,” Groves said, adding that cannabis licensing fees include a payment dedicated solely to the general fund update account where the money has been accruing. The remainder of the cannabis fee revenue goes to planning and code enforcement functions.

He also noted the general plan update fee is collected on every type of planning application ranging from lot line adjustments to subdivision maps and everything in between, “but cannabis has had the most activity, so it has had the greatest contribution. It is also the greatest cause for having to update the general plan.”

John Brower from Junction City asked that the county create a visual pie chart on cannabis funds showing how much is spent for enforcement, legal counsel, a consultant to prepare an EIR and everything else.

“It seems cannabis funds have been depleted entire at this point, and we could avoid that if we knew how big the apple is and what size we’re biting out of it as we take it,” he said.

Sup. Groves noted there was not a single question asked about cannabis during the board’s budget hearing on Sept. 10, “when I did point out we are eating into that reserve by about $1 million, but some of that is for one-time hits like the EIR.”

Budget analyst Suzi Hawkins said the fund is not depleted, noting the budget held about $1.4 million in cannabis funds at the end of June this year, and the 2019/20 budget will have about $400,000 remaining in the cannabis account by the end of June 2020 if all revenues and expenses turn out as expected.

The board vote to adopt the final budget as presented was unanimous.

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