Truckee tourism district heading to September vote | SierraSun.com

Truckee tourism district heading to September vote

Josh Staab
jstaab@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Of a few hundred individuals and representatives of hotel and property management companies invited to a public meeting Tuesday on the proposed Truckee tourism business improvement district, five people attended to share their thoughts.

Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce officials have been conducting outreach with transient occupancy tax registrants over the past six months, informing them about the proposed district, said Chamber CEO/Executive Director Lynn Saunders.

The 414 letters addressed to them notified them they would have the opportunity to voice support and/or their dissent to the formation of the Truckee Tourism Business Improvement District and its intention to collect a portion of their revenue to fund marketing and promotion for their collective businesses.

“We wanted to make sure those people had an opportunity to voice their opinion of and learn about the initiative,” Saunders said.

While only five people showed up at Tuesday’s hearing before Truckee Town Council — three of whom voiced criticism — five others wrote letters of opinion related to the project (three of which were in support).

“Truckee’s TBID will provide the lodging industry with a dedicated revenue stream to create marketing programs and activities to grow their businesses and add to the economic impact of the entire community,” wrote Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “Additional visitors also will increase the transient tourism tax generated, boosting the town’s general fund.”

Others voiced concern that a 2 percent assessment fee may negatively impact their quality of life and business and/or contribute little to no value for their business’s success.

“I am already responsible for paying a 10 percent tax on any short-term rentals and would oppose any additional levies, taxes or assessments,” wrote Steven Wasserman, a Truckee homeowner.

While Saunders was quick to point out the abundance of support for the initiative, she said even the smallest minority of dissent should not be ignored.

“We already know 65 percent of the TOT collectors support the TTBID,” said Tony Lashbrook, town manager, regarding the fact that petitions representing 65 percent of TOT collectors in favor of the district have been received.

That said, if 50 percent of those individuals show up voicing opposition at the Sept. 22 town council meeting, when council members are scheduled to vote on the fate of the district, “the TTBID will be dead,” he said.

“I highly doubt that would happen,” Saunders noted.

Saunders said she made it a point to speak face to face with as many of the registrants as she could about the district.

Still, Lashbrook noted that nothing is guaranteed, considering the seemingly apathetic response at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Do you take it as a sentiment of support; do they not care?” Lashbrook pondered. “I don’t know — the chamber did a lot of outreach, though, including face to face meetings.”

The chamber, with support of a number of lodging property owners, is pursuing the district in order to create a revenue source devoted to marketing Truckee as a tourist, meeting and event destination, according to the proposal.

Based on projections of TOT revenues in 2013-14, if established, Saunders said the district would generate roughly $340,000 on an annual basis for promotion of travel and tourism specific to Truckee.

In California, tourism-marketing districts are formed pursuant to the Property and Business Improvement, District Law of 1994 (PBID Law).

The law allows for the creation of a benefit assessment district to raise funds within a specific geographic area.

One difference between TBIDs and other special benefit assessment districts specifies any funds raised are returned to the private non-profit corporation governing the district. In this case the Truckee Donner Chamber on behalf of the TTBID.

The Sept. 22 Truckee Town Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m.