Revenue from marijuana sales in Aurora is expected to more than double next year compared to this year, as a handful of pot cultivation facilities and retail shops are slated to open in 2016.
Aurora city officials are forecasting $5.4 million in revenue from recreational marijuana sales for 2016, according to budget officer Greg Hays. That’s up from $2.65 million this year and $40,000 in 2014, the first year Aurora allowed pot sales.
“We’re brand spanking new into it,” said Hays of the city’s projection of more than double in revenue from 2015.
Recreational marijuana sales in Aurora started in October 2014 but only a few stores opened initially. By the end of this year, 12 more are expected to open and six more in 2016.
Money from marijuana sales and taxes will not be used to balance the general operating fund. Instead, the money will be earmarked for several “one-time” uses.
The City Council recently boiled the list down to four projects or uses. The largest chunk, more than $4 million, will go to road improvements. About $1.5 million will go toward battling the homeless problem in Aurora, but specifics on where that money will go has not yet been identified.
About $680,000 will be set aside for city nonprofits, which are currently funded through revenue from red-light cameras. There is a fear that money stream could dry up if they are banned by the legislature.
Some $2 million will be used to issue bonds for the creation of a new recreation center in southeast Aurora.
“We wanted to be able to show citizens that we are having a positive impact on the community and point to specific projects or initiatives to where that money is going to,” said Aurora City Councilman Bob Roth, who was chairman of the city’s recreational marijuana committee.
In 2017, the city estimates nearly $6.4 million in pot revenue. But once all of the allotted recreational marijuana licenses are issued — the number is capped at 24 — revenue from pot is expected remain flat from 2018-2020. That’s unless the city at some points decides to allow more than 24 pot shops to open in Aurora.
Carlos Illescas: 303-954-1175, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/cillescasdp