Situated at 10,600 feet in elevation, Alma, CO (population 300), is located in Park County – one of the most conservative, heavily Republican counties in Colorado. According to public record for 2012, Alma businesses collected a whopping $111,000 in tax revenue, while only collecting $54,000 in 2007.
How did this occur? Over the past five years, the only obvious changes in this little mountain town are the opening of two dispensaries, a grow store named South Park Hydroponics and a cool general store named Almart, a spoof on the omnipresent chain store.
For almost four years, the town of Alma has been begging the Park County commissioners to distribute the cannabis funds to best benefit the entire community, even though tiny Alma has been the cannabis success story for the entire county.
The doubling of the tax revenue in Alma has allowed the town to hire a new Water Systems Manager and raise the pay of all town employees. The extra tax funds have also helped purchase brand new law enforcement vehicles and town signage.
At a scheduled town council meeting, the mayor of Alma proposed that a percentage of the 4 percent excise tax collected from cannabis sales in the town go to funding a full-time armed police officer to protect the South Park Public Schools. Another proposal suggested a river restoration on the South Platte River, one of the finest trout fishing streams in the country.
While some towns in Colorado have banned and even forced dispensaries to shut their doors, many municipalities statewide are quietly collecting higher tax revenue than they've ever seen.