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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 11:40 pm | A Few Clouds 50º


Goleta Considers Bed-Tax Increase for November Ballot

City Council approves $20,500 for a survey to gauge voter support for the plan

The Goleta City Council is considering an increase in the transient occupancy tax rate from 10 percent to 12 percent, and on Tuesday approved a contract for conducting a public opinion survey.

For $20,500, Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research will call about 400 residents to gauge support for the bed tax increase, since it would need at least majority voter support to win approval on a general election ballot.

Hotels and tourism organizations met with city staff and expressed concern that there needed to be a clear vision on how the funds — about $900,000 per year — would be spent and suggested that a portion be invested back into the visitor service and lodging industry.

The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce has neither supported nor opposed the idea, according to President Kristen Miller.

She said members are concerned about the timing, though, both because of the competing tax measures in November and the “fragile” local economy.

“A higher tax affects the larger business community since it generates and often is paying for business travelers who come to Goleta,” Miller said.

After the survey is conducted, the City Council will vote whether — and when — to bring the tax hike to voters.

Both Santa Barbara County and Carpinteria are at a 10 percent rate, too, and are considering joining Goleta in a push to 12 percent, City Manager Dan Singer said. Santa Barbara has a 12 percent TOT, or bed tax, rate.

If the revenues are used for the General Fund, the tax would need only majority voter support. If the money will be used for a specific purpose, it would need two-thirds support to pass.

Councilman Roger Aceves voted against the survey and expressed concern about the competition in November’s election. Noting the new hotels and large stores going in soon, he said it could be difficult for the city to convince residents it needs the extra revenue.

Other members disagreed, saying the city’s infrastructure and operational costs mean there is no doubt that money is needed.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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