March gladness for TOT collectors
The city could get spoiled, warned a city official following the release of the March transient occupancy tax report that shows a second month with a double-digit increase in collections.
At $833,309, March collections were 13.45 percent above the same month a year ago. It was the fifth strong increase in a row and the second with a double-digit increase. February was up 13.72 percent compared to last year.
“That’s outstanding. We could be getting spoiled,” city accounting manager Robert Porfiri said. “I wouldn’t count on that to be the norm,”
The fiscal year to date, which began Oct. 1, shows a 9.16 percent increase over the last year.
“The year-to-date is extra-especially good,” Porfiri said. “If we keep to 5 or 6 percent (increase) by the end of the year, that’s outstanding.”
The occupancy rate, which on average has languished at low levels for the past several years, also showed improvement. The overall occupancy for the city was 46 percent in March, up 4 percent compared to a year ago.
The average room rate increased to $67.12 from last year’s March rate of $60.07.
Rental agents, which manage vacation rentals, reported an occupancy rate of 42 percent for an increase of 4 percent for the month. Average room rates for those properties increased $2.22 to $166.16 per night.
Porfiri said the good performance is due to a combination of things such as a good winter for tourism, low interest rates and an improving economy that allows people to spend more on travel.
The transient occupancy tax, or room tax, is considered an economic indicator for the lodging industry. The good performance is encouraging to tourism officials as well as the city’s bottom line.
The 10 percent transient occupancy tax is collected from the lodging industry in the city with an additional 2 percent collected from redevelopment properties.
Two percent of the 10 percent is reserved for tourism promotions, primarily by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, Lake Tahoe Airport and South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. The remaining funds go into the city’s general fund and for redevelopment bonding.
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