ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A political battle is brewing over the City of Manchester’s efforts to expand its boundaries. That’s because two marijuana dispensaries happen to be in the footprint of what Manchester wants to take over.
Currently, the cannabis businesses are in an unincorporated part of St. Louis County, right across the street from one another near Manchester and 141.
St. Louis County wants voters to approve a 3% sales tax increase on adult-use marijuana. If passed, that could bring in as much as $125,000 in additional tax revenue every year for each dispensary. That’s according to John Payne, who was part of the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana.
The city also hopes to have the 3% pot tax increase on the April ballot, but it does not currently have any dispensaries within its boundaries. The St. Louis County Executive’s Office believes that’s why Manchester wants to take over the area.
A spokesperson for the St. Louis County Executive’s Office said in the following statement:
“Of course, it’s about pot. There are two dispensaries in the area Manchester wants to annex. They want to convince voters to pass a sales tax on recreational pot and reap the benefits. Money grab, pure and simple.”
“It’s not a money grab at all, because we’re reinvesting whatever those revenues are,” said Manchester Mayor Mike Clement. “In our plan of intent, we have made that clear.”
Clement stated that they started working on a plan to expand its borders east to Barrett Station Road and north from Carmen Road to Town and Country.
“We are very, very connected (with the now unincorporated area) and it’s very logical,” the mayor said.
Clement said their plan began long before the dispensaries opened.
“It is a very complicated process. It is a very time-consuming process,” he said. “From a city perspective, we also look to see before we even started this, we wanted to see if it was viable.”
The mayor believes it’ll add up to better services for people now unincorporated, like a neighborhood on Barrett Place Drive. Some residents have mixed feelings, and many are worried that their taxes will go up if they are annexed.
“As far personal taxes, possibly a tiny bit, but they have big savings with the trash fees,” Clement said. “We only pay $6 a month for trash service in Manchester.”
He believes it would also mean faster police response times and better street maintenance and snow removal.
“I came into Manchester in 1999, annexed into Manchester, and the services that Manchester provided then were considerably better than what St. Louis County did then,” Clement said. “I think it’s the same story today. We are neighbors, we spend a lot of time together, let’s become kind of the full community.”
This coming Tuesday is a big day in which Manchester learns if it’s able to get the marijuana tax increase on the ballot as well as finds out whether an independent commission signs off on its annexation proposal.