Friday, February 23 , 2018, 4:48 pm | Fair 60º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Santa Barbara County Voters Oppose Higher Bed Tax Rates

A ballot measure asking voters to increase the bed-tax for local hotels and motels in Santa Barbara County's unincorporated area was soundly defeated during Tuesday's election.

Measure O would have raised the transient-occupancy tax rate, often known as a hotel tax or a bed tax because people who rent a short-term room are charged the fee.

Final election numbers on Tuesday showed voters opposed Measure O weighing in at 58.5 percent, with 41.5 percent voting in favor.

The measure would have only applied to unincorporated areas of the county — cities set and collect their own transient-occupancy taxes — and would have raised the current rate to 12.5 percent from 10 percent.

The measure needed a simple majority to win, and because of its failure, the tax rate will remain at 10 percent.

The current rate generates $7.5 million last year for the county and proponents of the measure said a rate increase would bring in an additional $1.9 million each year into the county’s general fund.

The measure put two county supervisors who are often aligned politically on opposing sides.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino has spoken out in favor of the measure, reasoning that the county hasn’t raised the tax in 24 years.

“For a long time, our Board (of Supervisors) has been trying to find ways to direct more money toward economic development and this would be a perfect tool,” he said, adding that the money would be collected from people who live outside the area and stay in local hotels.

Lavagnino said the money would go toward promoting Santa Barbara County as a destination.

Meanwhile, Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam said he wouldn’t support the measure because the money isn’t being used for a specific purpose.

“This ‘trust us’ thing I can’t agree with,” he said. “This is a thinly veiled attempt to throw more money at the general fund.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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