Truckee continues discussion on transient occupancy taxes increase
TRUCKEE — The Truckee Town Council is laying out a timeline for placing an increase in transient occupancy taxes on the 2020 November ballot as a way to secure funding for affordable housing projects.
“We know how hard it is to find any type of funds that are outside normal day-to-day operations. That’s what we’re doing here,” said Councilman David Polivy. “I think we need a couple more months to figure out what this might look like and how to have the best support going forward.”
The council plans to move forward with a committee of local business owners, residents and other stakeholders in the next three months to help decide whether a ballot measure would be feasible.
“Assuming we come out of that with a green light to move forward towards a specific election, then it’s developing informational messaging, an outreach plan to raise community awareness and working with (the) town attorney to build the measure,” said Charles Heath, a partner with Terris Barnes Walters Boignon Heath, a consulting firm hired by the town.
If the measure is to be on the November 2020 ballot, the council must approve it by July 1.
In May this year True North Research, a firm specializing in research studies for public agencies, surveyed 616 Truckee voters that were likely to participate in the November 2020 election. Around 80% of survey respondents supported the potential increase.
“Affordable housing and trying to address the affordability issue in town is an overwhelming priority for your voters,” said Heath. “We have the luxury of sitting around 80% for this proposal.”
If passed, the measure would increase the tax by 2%, generating $620,000 annually for town services. However, there is no guarantee the revenue would go directly toward affordable housing. Currently, lodging businesses collect a 2% assessment from their guests, which goes to the Truckee Tourism Business Improvement District for destination marketing. This makes the total assessment 12%, including the 10% in transient occupancy tax.
The tax, if approved, would increase the total assessment to 14%.
The funding collected would not be solely dedicated to affordable housing projects. The council would have the discretion to decide how to spend the revenue. The survey showed that Truckee voters are also interested in using the funds toward emergency and wildfire preparedness, protecting natural open space and repairing infrastructure.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister newspaper of The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2652.
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