February hot month for TOT | TahoeDailyTribune.com

February hot month for TOT

Up, up and, hopefully, away.

The city’s transient occupancy tax report for February is up in almost every category compared to a year ago.

“These are excellent performance figures for February,” said South Lake Tahoe City Manager Kerry Miller. “What’s striking is this is the first report I’ve seen in years where, not only is the TOT is up, but the (average daily rate) is up and occupancy is up.”

For February, the city collected $814,545 for the tax on lodging accommodations, an increase of 13.72 percent compared to February 1998. The amount collected since the city’s fiscal year began in October, is up 8.05 percent.

With Presidents’ Day and the height of the ski season, February tends to be strong as long as the snow is good.

“But to be up 14 percent over ’98 is significant,” Miller said.

The TOT is a 10 percent tax against room rates in most of the city and 12 percent for redevelopment properties.

“That’s obviously good for the budget,” Miller said. “We’re (nearly) $230,000 ahead of that collected for the prior year – just five months of performance into the fiscal year. There are years when we end the fiscal year with only a $230,000 increase. This could be a banner year overall.”

Occupancy, at 47 percent, is up 4 percent compared to February 1998 and the average room rate, at $72.94, is up $6.61.

City Councilman Tom Davis, president of Tahoe Keys Resort and a member of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association, was also excited about the report.

“It shows a healthy economy,” Davis said. “People are spending more and want a quality facility.”

The only decrease in the three-page report is in the room rate for motels with 31 to 50 rooms. In that category the room rate dropped $2.32 to $52.26.

Also on the low-side was the occupancy for slightly smaller properties. At 39 percent, motels with 16 to 30 rooms had only a 1 percent increase in occupancy compared to 1998.

“These are mostly our older properties, many of which are the target of the city’s acquisition program,” Miller said, referring to the city’s recent purchase and demolition of several older motels. The accommodations units are then reserved for new projects, mostly in redevelopment projects.

“(The low numbers) could indicate our demand for that type of property is not real strong.”

The monthly tax report is considered an indicator of the health of South Shore’s tourism industry. For many years, the industry has languished with low occupancy and low room rates compared to other resort communities.

With numbers up overall in the city report, industry and city officials hope it’s an indicator that better days are on their way.

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