City looking to deal with negligent hotels | TahoeDailyTribune.com

City looking to deal with negligent hotels

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

Topping a blockbuster South Lake Tahoe council meeting today, the city may grant amnesty to lodging establishments that pay their overdue motel-room taxes.

It’s also willing to spend money to find the delinquent innkeepers.

If the council agrees to waive two of the three penalties tacked on to money owed, the city will use the incentive as a way to collect on the estimated $630,000 in back taxes. The amount includes taxes, penalties and interest. The amnesty would expire July 15.

At last count, Finance Director Bruce Budman figured 24 properties have not paid their taxes. Standard properties collect 10 percent plus 50 cents on what they charge their guests per night. Those in the redevelopment zone charge 12 percent plus 50 cents.

The city has declined to release the names of the delinquent motels, pending the outcome of investigations.

A projected $9.8 million is expected to be generated from this source of revenue for fiscal year 2003-04. That’s a quarter of the general fund revenue.

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Every dollar is needed in the wake of looming cuts to be made from a state budget shortfall amounting to more than $36 billion.

With the hiring of an auditor who has collected about $400,000 in the last year, there’s been some improvement in auditing and collecting delinquent taxes, City Manager Dave Jinkens wrote in the council report. But more needs to be done to increase revenue in the face of sweeping cuts at the state, county and city levels.

The city also wants to ensure it has the necessary tools to monitor the activity and collect the back taxes. Staff is recommending the council spend $129,085 on a software package to replace its antiquated system.

As for more money matters, the council also may decide to buy a sport utility vehicle for $23,584 to replace an older one. The money would come from the police department’s budget.

And under a $27,500 contract, the council may agree to continue working with High Sierra Patrol to monitor activity in the city’s athletic fields, parks, parking lots and recreation areas.

The council will also consider proceeding with a 40- to 50-space parking lot off Harrison Avenue for vehicles using the El Dorado Beach boat ramp. The launching facility’s summer traffic prompted the city to secure upgraded facilities that include a restroom. A California Boating and Waterways grant of $449,000 will pay for the project, which has been in the design phase.

The council agenda also includes a second reading on a change in city code that reflects allowing for more than one arts and crafts show on the same day.

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in the council chambers at 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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