More TOT will go to promotions, Council decides
Nearly 100 people turned out Tuesday night to help the South Lake Tahoe City Council wrestle through what has been called the great TOT debate.
A decision had not been made as of the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s deadline. However, the City Council subcommittee which has looked into the issue – made up of Brooke Laine and Hal Cole – Tuesday changed their recommendation on how the transient occupancy tax, or room tax, would be used to fund the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.
In past years, 2 percent of the city’s room tax revenue has been used for the two promotional agencies as well as funding for the airport and the city’s arts program.
The subcommittee initially had been recommending that the money now be used for funding the airport and recreation projects, such as the ice rink. Only after that, then funding would go to the Chamber of Commerce and LTVA.
Tuesday night, however, Cole said their proposal had changed. He and Laine recommended that 75 percent of the 2 percent be given to the two promotional agencies. That would be an increase in their funding.
Duane Wallace, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said it was a good idea to keep the funding at 75 percent so the agencies wouldn’t have to fight each year for funding.
“You’ve got to dance with the one that brought you, and the one who brought us was tourism,” Wallace said.
The remaining 25 percent then would be allocated at the discretion of the City Council. It could go toward the Lake Tahoe Airport, funding the ice rink or potentially to fund the arts.
Arts supporters, however, still were worried there would be a decrease in funding the city’s arts program.
“You would be doing us all a great disfavor if you sacrifice the arts to build an ice rink,” said Jerome Evans, former chair of the arts commission.
Cole said the subcommittee’s intention wasn’t to take funding away from the arts program but to change the funding source. The program likely would have to compete for general funds like other city programs.
The way the city’s code reads now, recreation – such as the ice rink – could be funded by room taxes, but there is no mention of the arts. Either the ordinance should be rephrased or the Council should follow what it states, Cole said.
“This is not the arts against the ice rink,” Cole said. “It’s an interpretation of an existing ordinance.”
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