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Details Hashed Out On Proposed Tuolumne County New Development Tax

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Sonora, CA — Tuolumne County is moving forward with plans to create a countywide Community Facilities District that would levy new taxes on future development projects in an effort to offset the costs of supplying services.

It was noted that it comes in response to several development projects going through the review process, notably in the Groveland area along the Highway 120 corridor.

The board agreed, collectively 5-0, that it prefers taxing new residential and commercial projects based on square footage, and lodging facilities based on the number of units. For example, new homes up to 1,500 square feet would pay a $250 annual fee, those 1,500 to 3,000 square feet would pay $500 annually, 3,000 to 5,000 square feet would pay $750 a year, and over 5,000 square feet would pay $1,000. There would be similar fees for new commercial properties. Multifamily units, like duplexes, would pay 80% of the single-family residential rate.

For lodging, the facility would pay a percentage of the costs required to provide public safety and emergency services, equating to around 30% of the expenses. On the Highway 120 corridor, it would equate to projects paying about $7 per room, per night, regardless of whether it is occupied. It was noted that there are 500 new lodging units currently in the development stages that would be impacted.

It is in addition to any property taxes, or transient occupancy taxes, required to be paid.

At this point, Accessory Dwelling Units are not anticipated to be included under the new tax plan.

The taxes could go up, yearly, based on inflation.

The supervisors all noted that these are difficult discussions.

Supervisor Jaron Brandon indicated that structural financial challenges in the county have created revenue shortfalls. He feels the changes will support development in the long run because businesses and new residents will desire public safety services.

Supervisor Kathleen Haff added, “We don’t get enough taxes from all of our various sources to even fund basic services. We have to do something to make our county safe.

Supervisor Anaiah Kirk also stressed that the state doesn’t provide counties enough local funding and it is an issue that residents should think about when voting for state lawmakers.

Supervisor Ryan Campbell said, “I am comfortable where we landed and we have to be looking at the future, and if we have additional development, how we are going to pay for the services it will require.”

Board Chair David Goldemberg added, “Everyone worked together and I think we landed pretty well here.” Goldemberg stated that the county could also look at incentives to encourage development such as waiving the fees for a period of time.

Speaking about the need for more revenue, Tuolumne County Assistant Fire Chief Andy Murphy noted that the county responded to 4,300 incidents 10 years ago, and last year it was up to 6,700.

There was also some opposition voiced at the meeting. A handful of people spoke about how the increased costs will make it unaffordable for new homeowners and developers will be less interested in building.

Today’s item was only to give staff direction and formal votes will come later this year.

The new taxes would not impact existing residential, commercial, and lodging facilities.