The Streator City Council talked about recreational marijuana sales within city limits, but didn't take action on the issue.
Several cities, including Ottawa, La Salle, Peru, Sheridan and Marseilles have approved ordinances to collect taxes should a shop open within its communities. The La Salle County Board also passed an additional 3% sales tax on recreational marijuana sold in municipalities in La Salle County on top of the 3% collected by communities.
These ordinances don't necessarily mean the communities will allow sales within their limits.
The Streator council has yet to vote on the topic.
“I understand what (Mayor Jimmie Lansford) says in that it’s a gateway drug but heroin is already here,” said Councilman Joe Scarbeary during Tuesday's meeting. “If you can make the money you can use it for the pension system. Everyone else is going to make money.”
Lansford said there’s a new kit that would allow law enforcement to tell if someone is driving under the influence of marijuana and that would take care of one of the Streator Police Department’s largest concerns with legalization.
“We’re on a slippery slope right now and there’s going to be a lot more dispensaries than just what we see in the first round,” said City Manager David Plyman. “This is a learning curve and we’re going to have to amend our zoning code. The city is going to have to regulate it from an employer perspective just like everyone else.”
Scarbeary’s concern about the pensions bled into another discussion in how the city is going to manage the obligation in the future — a topic of concern throughout the state. Lansford said he’s spoken to Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“Chicago is looking to downstate to help force the state legislature to do something about the pension issue,” Lansford said. “Downstate isn’t going to be receptive to their problems. They’ve been taking advantage of the rest of the state for years.”
The topic of public safety pensions will come up more as the city approaches negotiations with the fire and police unions in the coming months.