El Dorado County supervisors may place measures on ballot seeking tax rate hikes

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — El Dorado County supervisors on Monday may decide to place a pair of measures on the November ballot that would ask voters to support increases to the transient occupancy tax rate with the funds generated being used solely for the purpose maintaining roads and snow removal.

The first measure is a 2% special tax increase on the West Slope of the county which would raise the rate from 10% to 12% and the second measure would increase the rate from 10% to 14% in the unincorporated Lake Tahoe area.

The 4% increase, which would require two-thirds of the voters to approve, would generate approximately $2.5 million, the county said based on last year’s TOT figures. The additional revenue would be dedicated to snow removal and maintenance of existing roads.

The county said the proposed rates are consistent with rates across the six county region, which range from 8% to 15%, plus $4-5.50 per night in the Tahoe Area.

If voters approve the measures, the TOT rate would remain a general tax allowing the board to maintain flexibility and, since the increases would be a special tax, supervisors would be able to pursue new revenues and grant funding.

TOT is collected through rent charged to visitors of hotels, motels, inns, or other lodging, except at a camping site or at a privately owned or state park campground or recreational vehicle park.

The county said in the agenda packet for Tuesday’s meeting, that the existing 10% TOT rate was established in 2004, when Measure H was placed on the ballot as a general tax and passed by a majority of the electorate at 59.7%. Because it was a general tax, funds may be used for anything, but county policy calls for the money to be used “toward the impact of tourism and economic development, with consideration for support of tourism and promotion activities within the county and for continued support for grant fund allocations to support veteran programs within the county.”

Last year, the board allocated $3 million toward offsetting tourism impacts; $1.3 million toward economic development; $621,000 toward tourism and promotion activities and $281,000 to support veteran programs.

The current recommendation makes no changes to the practice or policy.

The board could also choose to reduce or increase the recommended tax, or decide not to take any action.

If both measures pass, the county said the combined estimated funding dedicated to road maintenance and snow removal would be $2,840,000, which would free up about $3 million that the county contributed last year to road maintenance.

Also to be considered by supervisors, five Lake Tahoe area nonprofits may receive a chunk of American Rescue Plan Act funds that President Joe Biden signed into law in March 2021 to assist in the recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supervisors will discuss awarding 24 county nonprofits $1,978,931, including the Clean Tahoe Program ($10,000), Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation ($252,000), Lake Tahoe Shining Stars ($33,889.50), Sierra State Parks Foundation ($50,000) and Tahoe Youth and Family Services ($85,026).

The nonprofits had to be tax exempt, located in the county and provide a majority of services to county residents and experienced at least a 10% decrease in revenue in 2020 as compared to averages of the previous two years.

A total of 43 applications were received and, after a review of the applications, it was determined that 20 of the applicants were ineligible.

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. at 330 Fair Lane, Building A, in Placerville. It may also be live streamed via Zoom or YouTube.

Correction: The meeting date was updated.

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