Sonora Declares Fiscal Emergency And Moves Forward TOT Measure
Sonora, CA — The Sonora City Council took action, 5-0, to place a transient occupancy tax increase on the November ballot.
Similar to actions expected to be taken today by the Tuolumne County Supervisors, it would increase the rate by visitors to hotels from the current 10-percent to 12-percent. This type of measure legally needs to go on the ballot when a municipal city council election is held, and that was done this past March. So the city had to declare a fiscal emergency in order to receive an exemption to place it on the November ballot. Revenues have been the decline since March due to COVID-19.
During the public comment period, owners of both the Sonora Inn and the Inn at Knowles Hill raised concerns about the impacts it would have on lodging during an already down economy.
New councilmember Ann Segerstrom argued that if a room costs $100, the bill for the customer would go from $112 to $114, and doesn’t believe this will be a big deterrent for guests deciding whether or not to visit.
It was noted that Calaveras and Mariposa counties already have a TOT of 12-percent.
Councilmember Mark Plummer stated that right now is the “worst time to raise taxes,” and acknowledged the points made by the lodging industry representatives, but agreed to make a motion to put the matter before voters. He noted that revenue is needed for public safety needs in the city. It was seconded by Councilmember Jim Garaventa.
The vote to move the ballot measure forward, and also declare the fiscal emergency, was 5-0.
The Tuolumne County Supervisors are also planning to take additional steps related to placing a TOT increase for the unincorporated areas on the November ballot at today’s meeting getting underway at 9am. The TOT would also be expanded to RV parks and campgrounds if the measures are approved by voters.