Aurora eyes ordinance to thwart Adams County pot tax


AURORA | City Council is poised to escalate its fight over marijuana sales tax with Adams County during Monday night’s study session, slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 14.

Grow Tech Andrew Miller weeds through a potted field of marijuana Sept. 10 at Colorado Harvests Company's grow room in Denver. As recreational marijuana stores have been opening this month without a hitch the availability of industrial space across the Denver metro region is in question. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)Council members are expected to approve an ordinance for consideration at a future regular meeting that would amend the city’s tax code to not recognize “any sales tax on a transaction not subject to collection by the City or the State of Colorado.”

The move comes as Aurora and two other municipalities are challenging the newly instituted Adams County sales tax on marijuana sales. Adams County voters approved a 3-percent county sales tax in the November 2014 election, which Aurora, Northglenn and Commerce City have subsequently sued the county over, arguing the county does not have the authority to tax recreational marijuana.

An Adams County district judge in June ruled against the plaintiff municipalities as they sought an injunction to preclude collection of the taxes until the legal case was settled. Aurora had argued that the Adams County sales tax puts marijuana retail shops within Adams County at a competitive disadvantage to those in the non-Adams County portions of the city.

With the ordinance before council, Aurora would be attempting to create a de facto injunction by barring the city from collecting “any sales tax that is not lawfully imposed and administered.” City staff also contend that collection of the Adams County marijuana tax impacts Aurora’s ability to impose its own special sales tax on retail marijuana.