Josephine county buys bill counter to handle pot cash | Local

GRANTS PASS — The final straw was the day a marijuana grower came in to get a permit and paid for it with $3,000 cash in $5 and $10 bills.

So many permits and fees were being paid for with marijuana money the Josephine County Community and Economic Development Department needed a bill counter.

It was a chore to count, staff said, and not necessarily safe, right out there on the front counter, with customers waiting.

“That started the whole thing,” department office manager Melissa Older said while demonstrating the machine’s use.

It arrived a few weeks ago and is called a JetScan, made by Cummins Allison. Its price tag is nearly $1,900. The county treasurer’s office was consulted about what to buy.

Older said employees didn’t feel comfortable counting out all that cash in public. Also, there was the desire to make sure all those bills were counted accurately.

The machine checks for counterfeit bills, too.

To get an idea about how much business the marijuana industry is doing with the county, department director Julie Schmelzer provided the following statistics:

Building fees collected by the building safety division jumped 61 percent, to $541,863 during the most recent fiscal year, which concluded June 30, vs. $332,039 last year;

Electrical fee collections jumped 80 percent over the same period, to $154,467 from $85,916;

Planning division fee collections jumped 64 percent: $496,923 vs. $302,149.

“That gives you some idea about money changing hands,” Schmelzer said.

Not all of the increased revenue was due to marijuana-related development. Schmelzer said some is due to increased residential construction, as the economy continues to improve.

And business isn’t slowing: This fiscal year, which began July 1, looks to be busier yet, she said.

“It’s crazy.”

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