Measure A proposes an increase in Transient Occupancy Tax from the current eight percent to 12 percent, beginning July 1.
If Measure A passes with a majority of Siskiyou County voters on March 3, visitors who stay in hotels and motels located in unincorporated areas would see a small increase in their room rates.
Measure A proposes an increase in Transient Occupancy Tax from the current eight percent to 12 percent, beginning July 1. This would mean an infusion of approximately $340,000 annually to the county’s general fund, to be used for local infrastructure and general county services such as fire protection, law enforcement, rescue, emergency response and preparedness, and maintaining facilities and equipment, according to ballot language.
Because TOT cannot be taken by the state, all Measure A revenue would stay local, Siskiyou supervisors noted in their argument in favor of the measure which was printed in the voter information guide.
District 2 supervisor Ed Valenzuela pointed out that the tax would affect tourists and business travelers, not local Siskiyou citizens. And although the extra funding would be helpful for the county, “it won’t get us out of crisis mode ... there is no silver bullet that will cure our budgeting ills,” Valenzuela said.
Individual cities in the county set their rate and administer their own TOT; it is collected by lodging operators and paid to the county on a quarterly basis. The cities of Mount Shasta, Weed, Yreka and Dunsmuir already have TOT set at 10 percent.
Some of the lodging locations in the county that would be affected by the change are Mount Shasta Resort, Lake Siskiyou Campground, Lake Shastina Golf Resort, Railroad Park Resort, hotels in McCloud, and private campgrounds on the Klamath River.
The county’s TOT has been set at eight percent since 1990, although raising the rate isn’t a new idea: Efforts have been made over the past 30 years to raise TOT, but never successfully.
In 2008 and again in 2010, supervisors placed measures on the ballot to raise the TOT to 10 percent: In 2010, Measure M failed 41.8 percent to 58.2 percent and in 2012, Measure D failed 45.3 percent to 54.7 percent, according to Ballotopedia.
Valenzuela said 2010’s Measure M was an idea he put forth when he was first elected to the board to help shore the budget. At that time, he was warned that getting such a measure to pass with Siskiyou voters would be tough.
However, individual Siskiyou cities have slowly increased their TOT taxes over the years, and raising Siskiyou’s rate would simply make unincorporated locations “on par” with the those, Valenzuela said.
District 4 Supervisor Lisa Nixon called Measure A “timely” and said it’s a “proactive step to boost our local vitality.”
“Our county has been cutting expenses for a long time,” Nixon said. “Now we need to find appropriate sources of additional revenue in order to maintain our levels of public service. This rise in hotel tax is timely and will bring us up to par with other tourist destinations, while keeping us competitive.”
In their argument in support of the measure, supervisors note that Siskiyou County visitors use roads, facilities and emergency services and raising hotel tax is a “direct and fair way to recover the costs associated with maintaining our infrastructure and providing essential services to visitors and residents alike.”
Because the increase is a general tax and not a special tax, a majority vote of 50 percent is required to pass Measure A next month as opposed to the two-thirds vote needed to pass a special tax.