Council approves Human Bean, cannabis tax rate, assesses library needs | News

On Tuesday evening during the regular meeting of the Porterville City Council, the dais approved a modification to a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to allow for a drive-thru coffee shop in the Smart and Final commercial center, decided upon a cannabis tax rate, and authorized staff to hire a consultant to perform a needs assessment for a future library facility not to exceed an amount of $75,000.

During the public hearings portion of the meeting, the dais was asked to discuss a modification to a CUP to allow for a Human Bean coffee shop drive-thru in the commercial center where Smart and Final is located. The Human Bean will be on the southeast corner of Olive Avenue and Lotas Street, and will be accessible through an internal system of driveways in the parking lot. The CUP needed to be modified in order for the drive-thru to be permitted. The modification reduced the number of retail space by roughly 6,250 square feet. The coffee shop, which is proposed to be roughly 825 square feet in size, will still leave nearly 4,300 square feet of space for future developments. The modification to the CUP to allow for the Human Bean drive-thru coffee shop was approved with a vote of 5-0.

Once the public hearing was closed, the Council moved on to their first scheduled matter for the night, which involved setting a retail dispensary cannabis tax rate.

After the election results from November were counted, the voters of Porterville had passed the Measure R tax ballot, enacting a cannabis business tax within city limits. On Tuesday night, the Council decided that a seven percent tax rate would be best. The dais came to this decision after the Council’s Cannabis Ad-Hoc Committee had done some research and advised the Council on their findings. The Ad-Hoc committee had compared other cannabis tax rates in the area, finding that they all averaged right around five percent. Because Porterville is a larger jurisdiction that those that the Ad-Hoc committee had used to compare to, the seven percent rate was suggested as it is estimated that Porterville will experience a higher number of sales which would bring in a higher amount of revenue for the city. The seven percent tax rate was approve 3-1, with Council member Milt Stowe standing in opposition and newest Council member Kellie Carrillo abstained due to conflicts with the item.

The Council’s next matter regarded two items that were brought forth by the Library and Literacy Commission during a joint meeting with the City Council on November 10. The first matter, which was approved with a vote of 5-0, was the hiring of a consultant for a needs assessment for a future library facility. In 2009, a needs assessment was done on the library but the consulting firm that handled the needs assessment is no longer in business. The Council had previously approved no more than $75,000 from the library fire insurance funds be used to hire a consultant for a new needs assessment, and, on Tuesday, authorized staff to begin looking for and hiring a new consulting firm.

In relation to hiring a consultant, the dais also discussed the possible formation of a Facilities Planning Committee. The idea was that the committee could help the consultant in the needs assessment, and act as an advisory board to the Council for a future library facility. Direction was given from the dais that the new Facility Planning Committee should include at least one Member of Council, and a ratio of no more than one City staff member to two non-staff Committee members.

The second matter that was brought to Council by the library commission was the need to create a Library Foundation in order to raise funds for a future library and library services. On Tuesday, while the Council did discuss the creation of a foundation, they did not make any final decision on the establishment of a Library Foundation non-profit organization.

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