Commission approves 3-cent room tax hike question for voters |

Commission approves 3-cent room tax hike question for voters

Annie Flanzraich and Sheila Gardner
Tahoe Daily Tribune
Annie Flanzraich / Tahoe Daily Tribune

GARDNERVILLE, Nev. – A new occupancy tax increase approved by Douglas County could mean $800,000 more to market Lake Tahoe and Douglas County and another $460,000 for parks and recreation.

Douglas County commissioners cleared the way Thursday for a 3-cent increase in the transient occupancy tax – paid by visitors to hotels and vacation rentals – to help shore up sagging room tax revenues.

The tax increase will be put to county voters in the November election as an advisory question. It would increase the rate from 10 cents to 13 cents per $1 of the room rate to support tourism development and parks and recreation facilities.

If voters approve the ballot question, it must be OK’d by the Nevada Legislature.

“We need overwhelming support from the voters to take this to the Legislature,” said Commissioner Doug Johnson. “Not even then is it guaranteed.”

The money generated by the increase would be divided among the Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority, the Carson Valley Visitors Authority and Douglas County.

The county estimates the increase could bring in $1.38 million, however that could decrease by the time the increase could be implemented sometime in 2011 at the earliest, County Manager T. Michael Brown.

Of that money about 58 percent would go to the TDVA, a partner with the Lake Tahoe Visitor’s Authority, another about 33 percent would go to Douglas county for parks and recreation spending and about 9 percent would go to the CVVA.

In a report to commissioners, Brown said there has been a steady decline in transient occupancy tax generated in Douglas County. For the current fiscal year, budget revenues will need to be revised downward by about $1 million, or 17 percent, he said.

That reduces money available to support promotional activities and to fund parks, recreation, senior services and library services in Douglas County.

“Tourists will pay almost 100 percent of this tax as few county residents stay in hotel rooms or vacation rentals throughout the year,” Brown said. “This is consistent with the county’s position that, to the extent possible, taxes or fees imposed by a local government should have a nexus to the service, program or facility provided.”

He said the proposed increase would place Douglas County in the “high middle” of other Nevada and California communities, but lower than many large communities in the western United States.

Washoe County charges 13 percent transient occupancy tax and Carson City 10 percent.

The increase is supported by many Lake Tahoe lodging venues, said Carol Chaplin, executive director of the LTVA.

“Everyone is supportive of it because they are supportive of the additional money that would go toward the promotion of the destination,” Chaplin said.

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