Proposed small business tax cut heads to November ballot |

Proposed small business tax cut heads to November ballot

Adam Jensen

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – As voters headed to the polls on Tuesday, the South Lake Tahoe City Council voted unanimously to add an ordinance changing business license rates to the Nov. 2 ballot.

If approved by a majority of voters, the ordinance would decrease the city’s business license tax rate by 10 percent per $1,000 in gross revenues, but increase the maximum amount of the tax from $3,387 to $10,000.

About 50 large businesses would pay more under the proposed ordinance and almost 3,400 would pay less, according to information from city staff.

Calculations showing how much more the average big business would pay and how much less the average small business would pay under the proposed ordinance were not immediately available Tuesday.

The proposed ordinance is expected to generate about $100,000 annually for the city, but a pair of City Council members said the ordinance was more about resolving a long-standing problem with how the rates are assessed than generating tax revenue.

“This would address an inequitable situation that’s been around since I’ve been around,” said Councilman Hal Cole.

Lowering the tax rate would be a “good message” to small businesses, Cole added.

Mayor Kathay Lovell agreed.

“I support this because, in the long term, this is going to be a real fairness issue,” Lovell said.

• An assessment leveled on about 70 business and property owners in the Ski Run Business Improvement District was approved by the City Council Tuesday.

The 2010/2011 assessment is expected to raise $10,500 to subsidize the city’s maintenance of landscaping along the street.

The assessment failed to pass at the Council’s May 18 meeting, when Councilmen Hal Cole and Jerry Birdwell recused themselves from discussing the item and Councilman Bill Crawford abstained.

Although Crawford said he firmly opposed the assessment and thought the city should end its relationship with the business improvement district in May, on Tuesday he said a discussion with members of the district on May 25 changed his mind.

Also since the May meeting, City Attorney Patrick Enright determined Cole’s previous ownership of property on Ski Run Boulevard does not constitute a conflict of interest. Cole’s brother has owned the property since August, Cole said Tuesday.

The assessment passed 4 to 0, with Birdwell recusing himself because he owns the Black Bear Inn.

• The City Council unanimously backed writing a letter of support to organizers of the Amgen Tour of California in hopes of bringing the professional bicycle race to Lake Tahoe in May 2011.

Douglas County Commissioners have already written a similar support letter and the item is expected to come before the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors at an upcoming meeting.

Organizers are expected to announce the host cities for next year’s race later this month.

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