Half-percent sales tax proposed
With little fanfare, the South Lake Tahoe City Council approved Tuesday night moving forward on sending a ballot initiative for a half-percent increase in the sales tax to the El Dorado County Registrar of Voters.
A 7.75 percent sales tax is due to go before the voters Nov. 2. It’s expected to raise an additional $2 million for the city’s general fund. But it may not hit the coffers until July – 10 months after the 2004-05 budget goes into effect.
The council called for the session to get a reading whether the public would support more tax on retail goods in town. It used the community survey as a basis of public opinion.
Forty-one percent of those surveyed said they would probably support a half-percent sales tax hike. On the other end of the scale, two thirds said they definitely would not vote yes on paying an additional 1 percent.
The council has struggled with choosing one of four options, which also included three- and one-quarter percent increases. The latter would be designated for street improvements, a city service some of the residents polled rates high in priorities.
“The interesting thing about the survey is everybody wants city services, but nobody wants to pay for them,” Mayor Tom Davis said.
Only a few people spoke on the survey or the sales tax.
Ed Mosur said he would be more inclined to support a one-quarter percent raise in the tax. He also questioned why increasing the motel-room tax was not being discussed.
“It has a better chance of passing,” he said.
The concept of raising the sales tax came about with the campaign for the 2002 passage of Measure Z, a $1.50 raise in the 10- or 12-percent tax hotel guests pay per room, per night. The deal was – the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association would support and campaign for taxing its own industry with the prospect of the business retail segment in town chipping in more to city coffers.
The measure was promoted by a coalition of community members led by South Lake Tahoe’s police and fire unions, Realtors, senior citizens, the Chamber of Commerce and Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.
Pete MacRoberts, who runs the Viking Motor Lodge, said the Lodging Association may be more apt to support the campaign with the condition the city enact its plan to restore marketing funds for the chamber and LTVA.
The city has moved forward with plans to form a Business Improvement District to subsidize promotion.
– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org