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Countywide Measure K Would Maintain 10% Bed Tax Rate

If the measure fails — thus reverting the tax to 8 percent — the county stands to lose $1.2 million

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer |

Amid controversial ballot initiatives and heated Santa Barbara County races, the countywide Measure K has been lost in the scuffle.

The measure is needed to maintain the 10 percent bed tax rate that applies to hotels within the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County. It changed to 10 percent in 1990, and a majority yes vote is needed to keep it from reverting to 8 percent.

The bed tax, or transient occupancy tax, is collected by hoteliers and given to the county treasurer’s office. It’s the third-largest discretionary tax source after property and sales tax for the county, with $7.2 million, $6.4 million and $5.8 million the last three years, respectively, and a projected $6 million for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

According to the county counsel analysis, the state can’t raid the funds or even borrow them, so the revenues stay local. The county would lose about $1.2 million if the ballot measure fails to pass.

“A yes vote makes no change in the 20-year-old tax rate but sustains revenue flow to help pay for vital local services,” Board of Supervisors chairwoman and Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf wrote in the argument for Measure K.

Montecito hotels produce the most revenues of the unincorporated areas, with $3.28 million in the 2008-09 fiscal year that comes mostly from the Four Seasons Biltmore and the San Ysidro Ranch.

The Greater Santa Barbara Lodging & Restaurant Association supports the measure and has educational materials in the works for voters, said Tom Patton, GSBLRA board member and general manager of the Ramada Limited on Calle Real.

There could be more to lose in terms of social services from losing $1.2 million than what would be gained by going down to 8 percent, he said.

“My personal feeling is that I have no problem with it staying at 10 percent,” Patton said.

The organization aims to educate people that it’s an existing tax, he said, since many voters tend to vote no when a tax is involved.

The countywide and statewide primary election is June 8.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).




comments powered by Disqus

» on 05.31.10 @ 08:39 PM

Sorry to say but given the way the county and city gov’t spend money I have to say NO to all taxes. 

I also have to wonder how many conferences decided not to come here due to the extra 10% tax.

» on 05.31.10 @ 11:24 PM

The liberals said it would be a temporary tax increase—lies again—

Why do we want to hurt business and the tourist??

Vote no on taxes when you have a chance.—

We have a seroius spending problem in Government..

» on 06.01.10 @ 05:14 PM

Because our local officials in the city council are morons I have voted against it.

» on 06.01.10 @ 06:50 PM

I’m voting yes on this one. Let the tourists pay for some of the services they use.  Whenever I travel I end up paying some kind of tax on my hotel - can’t say it’s ever impacted my decision where to go.  It makes total sense to keep it 10%.

» on 06.01.10 @ 07:19 PM

The tourist are getting double taxed and its wrong. This was created because we have bad liberal leaders who cant balance a budget. Remember the Democrats never have enough of your hard earned money.

Democrats Motto—-TAX TAX TAX—SPEND SPEND SPEND—its not our money..Vote NO on the double tax increase.

» on 06.02.10 @ 05:18 PM

If you want any tourist in a down economy then the last thing you want to do is tax them more.

Actually, the hospitality industry will take it in the shorts, not the tourists. What will happen is hotels will have to continue to reduce rates to attract a dwindling supply of tourists and the tax will come out of their profit margins. Ok you say, but as their profits start turning to losses then first the smaller locally owned and run establishments will disappear and be replaced by large corporate chains that can handle a year or two of flat or no growth. Then they will see this as a no profit market and start pulling out as well.

The bottom line is you will pay the cost, not the tourist or the corporations. As revenues from the falling overtaxed business fall even further you government you elected will go after your money.

Of course, they could always reduce the bed tax, allowing a more competitive pricing for the industry which in turn would attract a larger number of tourists. The increase would offset the tax reduction by a great deal more, thus increasing revenue generated. This actually requires you to understand economics and realize the more government pulls money out of an economy in taxes the worse that economy gets.

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