Lodging tax hike to help bring event center to Tahoe’s Stateline | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lodging tax hike to help bring event center to Tahoe’s Stateline

Staff Reports

A new venue that could host concerts, meetings and other events in Stateline moved one step closer to becoming reality — albeit there remains a long road ahead — after Douglas County commissioners on Thursday approved an increase to the Tahoe Township Transient Occupancy Tax.

The tax will go up 1 percent at all transient lodging businesses within the Lake Tahoe Township effective July 1. About 400 businesses will be impacted.

The tax is currently set at 3 percent, with 2 percent going to the Carson Valley and Tahoe Douglas visitor authorities to grow tourism and 1 percent going to the county to fund economic vitality efforts.

The increased tax revenue will be used to continue feasibility studies for an all-season events and performance center in Stateline next to MontBleu Casino at the corner of U.S. 50 and Lake Parkway.

Representing the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority, Lew Feldman showed several schematics of what the building could possibly look like. The renderings depicted a modern-looking building with large glass windows facing the highway.

As depicted, the building will be about 120,000-square-feet under roof, he said. Hosting a concert-type event it could accommodate up to 6,000 people; if the main floor is being used for the event the building could seat about 2,000-3,000 people.

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The project has almost universal support from commissioners — Dave Nelson, who noted he signed a pledge to not raise taxes, cast the sole vote against the project. Other commissioners noted that visitors would be the ones paying the additional tax.

Representatives from the gaming and lodging industry stepped up to voice continued support for the project.

Citing the sizable influx of people who attend the Harveys Summer Concert Series shows, John Packer with Harrah's and Harveys Lake Tahoe asked those in attendance to imagine if the South Shore could host those kinds of shows year-round, including during shoulder seasons that can be brutal for businesses that rely on tourists.

Others who spoke at the meeting shot-down concerns that the 1 percent tax increase would negatively affect businesses, with some noting that taxes are still higher in South Lake Tahoe across the state line. Pat Ronan with the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association pointed out that they have heard zero complaints since a recent 2-percent increase to TOT in South Lake Tahoe.

While Thursday's decision was a step in the right direction, it could be some time before construction starts. Anticipated cost from fiscal year 2018 through 2020 are expected to range around $2.2 million, according to a presentation at the meeting.

However, if and when the center is completed it could have an annual economic impact of $25 million and create 386 year-round jobs.

"To my fellow colleagues sitting on the board, I ask the proverbial question I asked at the beginning — why wouldn't we vote for this?" asked Commissioner Steve Thaler.

Amy Alonzo with the Record Courier wrote the majority of this report. Reach Amy at aalonzo@recordcourier.com. Tribune Editor Ryan Hoffman contributed to this report. Reach Ryan at rhoffman@tahoedailytribune.com.

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