Oct 3, 2017
On October 3rd, the Board of Supervisors approved funding commitments to expend increased revenue resulting from Measure L, a ballot measure approved by voters last November that increases the County’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) rate from 9% to 12%. Supervisors committed touse $5 million of anticipated new revenue largely on funding for roads, fire services, Regional Parks, affordable housing and homeless services, and other essential services and community needs. Measure L’s ballot language stated that the increased TOT revenue could be used to address the impacts of tourism by investing in similar County services. The TOT is charged on all hotels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds, vacation rentals, and similar overnight stay establishments.
“These allocations demonstrate our commitment to the community to spend this new tax revenue on our most pressing local priorities,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Shirlee Zane, who also serves on the Board’s Measure L Ad Hoc Committee. “The Measure L ballot language stated we could spend these funds to mitigate the impacts of tourism and invest in issues like roads improvements, emergency response, and workforce housing, and that is exactly what we are doing.”
Of the $5 million in new TOT revenue for Fiscal Year 2017-18, a total of 20% ($1 million) was committed to each of the following: roads repair and improvements; fire services; and Regional Parks. In addition, $621,000 was approved for affordable housing and homeless services, and $500,000 has been set aside in a new Tourism Mitigation Fund to fund unique and urgent needs in Sonoma County most impacted by tourism. Remaining Measure L funds will be used for event facilities improvements, such as Veteran’s Halls, and for code enforcement and compliance activities.
“We developed key principles to guide the Ad Hoc’s spending recommendations, particularly the need to address the significant impacts of tourism to local communities, enhance the local economy, and meet the funding commitments of Measure L,” said Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins who also serves on the Measure L Ad Hoc Committee. “These approved funds will directly benefit our unincorporated towns, especially areas in the county that are most affected by tourism.”
In addition to Measure L funding commitments, the Board approved changes to the policy guiding the Advertising and Promotions Program, which administers a portion of the TOT funds. This includes renaming the program to the Community Investment Program, which better reflects how the Board uses these funds, and also includes a reorganization of the existing policy to better demonstrate the substantial amount of funding provided to benefit community improvements. Additional policy changes include a reduction in TOT funding for Sonoma County Tourism Bureau and increased funding for non-profit workforce development grants.
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