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Tuolumne County Approves Ballot Arguments For Tax Measures

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Sonora, CA — Ahead of the 2020 primary election, the Tuolumne County Supervisors voted to approve the official supporting argument that will go before voters, but not without some edits to the language.

The vote was unanimous for both the tax increase arguments to be put on the March 3rd primary election ballot. The county is going to ask voters whether to increase the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from the current 10-percent to 12-percent and the sales tax from 7.25-percent to 8.25 percent.

Before agreeing to the TOT tax hike, District 3 Supervisors Anaiah Kirk questioned staff, “Part of my thing a few months ago, is that I didn’t want to sign up for this unless we did everything we could.  Do we have an update on where we are on a possible meeting with the governor’s office to go over our budget because I will feel more comfortable if we keep pounding on that door?”

Staff relayed that they have been given a contact within the governor’s office and are working on that issue.  Noting that over the weekend she looked at issue related to possible service cuts including fire and police services, District 1 Supervisor Sherri Brennan stated, “I believe that it is very important that we find the resources that we need for,” pausing and emotionally stating, “I’m looking at some of our department heads out here [in the audience], but, in particular, you know, those things that are threatening our community.”

Brennan also called for a slight change when it came to the wording of the sales tax increase argument. She asked that the line “Board of Supervisors” be taken out of the line pertaining to a commitment to provide exceptional public service and insert instead “Tuolumne County,” noting, “It is about our staff being able to provide those services.  And, yes, we lead that, but I really believe if the voters vote this in, it is a commitment from Tuolumne County.”

Staff noted that the requested change along with others to the TOT argument would be added. The latter pertains to a sentence at the end of the second paragraph to be revised to write, “will allow visitors to pay their fair share for the county services which would otherwise be borne by the local taxpayers.” Additionally, the beginning of the third paragraph would be revised to state, “Won’t increasing the TOT hurt tourism? No, a two percent increase does not place Tuolumne County out of market range.”

View the original argument for the TOT tax increase is below followed by the sales tax:

Argument in Favor of Measure-TOT

A Yes vote on Measure_ would raise our Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT} from 10% to 12% in the unincorporated areas of Tuolumne County and extend the tax to campgrounds and recreational vehicle parks. TOT is a tax paid for primarily by visitors who use one of our many options for lodging.

Visitors and tourists use our roads, parks and emergency services as they enjoy all that Tuolumne County has to offer; from our various lakes, national forest, and ski resort

to restaurants, shops and the historical sites throughout Tuolumne County. Raising the TOT represents a direct and fair way to recover the increased costs associated with impact visitors have on our county.

Won’t increasing the TOT cause visitation to decrease? No! Few people ever look at the TOT rate they pay and if they did, they would not be alarmed. A 2% increase does not place Tuolumne County out of market range. The 12% rate proposed is consistent with the region and is less than most major destinations. The TOT actually promotes tourism in Tuolumne County by increasing the county’s ability to invest in local infrastructure, public safety, and marketing to increase tourism.

Tourists spend millions of dollars each year that sustains many local businesses. This, in turn, generates tax dollars that fund essential local government services. The proposed increase achieves an important balance between maintaining our competitiveness for tourism while providing an opportunity to fund essential county services.

The revenue from Measure_ will help fund critical County services and none of the money can be taken away by the State, all Measure_ revenue will stay here in Tuolumne County.

Argument in Favor of Measure – Sales Tax

A YES vote on Measure_ would ensure Tuolumne County can continue to meet the mission of the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors made a commitment to provide exceptional public service that protects the health and safety of our citizens, promotes stewardship of our natural and cultural resources, enhances our rural quality of life and stimulates the economic prosperity for our community.

Each year, through the budget process, Tuolumne County takes action to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. While this is done in general to be good stewards of public funds, it is also done out of necessity. Continuous changes to State and Federal mandates, laws, and regulations continue to increase the cost of essential services to our citizens. Local revenues have continued to increase, but they are not keeping pace with the cost associated with new State and Federal mandates. If this continues, Tuolumne County will be unable to maintain the same level of service we provide today.

Today, Sales Tax in the unincorporated areas of Tuolumne County is 7.25%, the State mandated minimum. Of 7.25%, only 1% comes back to the Tuolumne County General

fund. The majority is retained by the State of California. The additional revenue generated by this Measure would all go to Tuolumne County’s general for essential services and not the State.

Additionally, Tuolumne County receives over a million visitors each year that have an impact on the services provided. This measure ensures visitors pay a far share for the impact they have on our community through their local purchases which are subject to sales taxes.

A YES vote on Measure_ would ensure that Tuolumne County can sustain the essential services provided today; such as fire protection, sheriff’s patrols, libraries, recreation, and youth programs while creating a more fiscally sustainable future.