No room taxes for ice rink, lodging group tells officials
South Shore may desperately need recreational facilities, but stay away from room taxes for funding, is the message the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association will send city officials.
On Thursday, the association board of directors elected to send a letter to the city upholding the recommendations of the South Tahoe Alliance for Recreation to go after a special tax rather than dip into the transient occupancy taxes collected from lodging guests.
“It’s foolish to take more dollars out of TOT from marketing,” said association Secretary/Treasurer Jim Beattie of Tamarack Rentals. When business is down, you advertise more, he said. “That’s Marketing 101.”
The lodging association motion was precipitated by the City Council’s discussion last month that TOT could be considered a source of funding for an ice skating rink.
Currently the city collects a 10 percent room tax. Another 2 percent is collected in the redevelopment area to pay redevelopment bonds. Eight percent of the 10 percent goes into the general fund and 2 percent is historically allocated for loosely defined tourism promotions. Besides promotions through the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, a portion of the 2 percent is allocated to such things as public art and the Lake Tahoe Airport, which some business people consider inappropriate.
“We need to ask the city to stop this approach,” Beattie said. “It’s not good for the community. In big cities, there are millions of people who don’t even know where South Lake Tahoe is.”
The South Tahoe Alliance for Recreation, or STAR, has worked for several years to improve recreational facilities. Its studies identified three primary recreational needs – ball fields, bike paths and ice rink – and researched funding options. The alliance is working on a ballot measure for June 2000 to raise funds to develop and maintain additional facilities to meet the needs of residents and visitors.
The Lodging Association expects to again take up the issue of the city’s use of TOT at a future meeting when City Manager Kerry Miller is present to identify exactly how the tax is currently used.
The association and other members of the business community hope to convince the city to consistently allocate TOT for promotions instead of looking at it as uncommitted funds.
“This is an endless debate that never goes anywhere,” said association board member and attorney Dennis Crabb. “We just bring it up every four years and then go on with what we’ve been doing.”
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