Truckee continues discussion on TOT increase | SierraSun.com

Truckee continues discussion on TOT increase

Hannah Jones
hjones@sierrasun.com

Truckee Town Council is laying out a timeline for placing an increase in Transient Occupancy Taxes on the 2020 November ballot as a way to secure funding source for affordable housing projects.

“We know how hard it is to find any type of funds that is outside normal day to day operations, that’s what we’re doing here,” said Council member David Polivy. “I think we need a couple more months to figure out what this might look like and how to have the best support going forward.”

The council plans to move forward with a committee of local business owners, residents and other stakeholders in the next three months to help decide whether a ballot measure would be feasible.

“Assuming we come out of that with a greenlight to move forward towards a specific election, then it’s developing informational messaging, an outreach plan to raise community awareness and working with the town attorney to build the measure,” said Charles Heath, a partner with Terris Barnes Walters Boignon Heath, a consulting firm hired by the town.

“Affordable housing and trying to address the affordability issue in town is an overwhelming priority for your voters.”— Charles HeathPartner with Terris Barnes Walters Boignon Heath

If the measure is to be on the November ballot council must approve it by July 1.

In May, True North Research, a firm specializing in research studies for public agencies, surveyed 616 Truckee voters that were likely to participate in the November 2020 election. Around 80% percent of survey respondents supported the potential increase.

“Affordable housing and trying to address the affordability issue in town is an overwhelming priority for your voters,” said Heath. “We have the luxury of sitting around 80% for this proposal.”

If passed, the measure would increase the tax by 2%, generating $620,000 annually for town services. However, there is no guarantee TOT revenue would go directly toward affordable housing. Currently, lodging businesses collect a 2% assessment from their guests which goes to the Truckee Tourism Business Improvement District for destination marketing. This makes the total assessment 12% including the 10% in Transient Occupancy Tax.

The funding collected would not be solely dedicated to affordable housing projects. The town council would have the discretion to decide how to spend the revenues. The survey showed that Truckee voters are also interested in using the funds towards emergency and wildfire preparedness, protecting natural open space and repairing infrastructure.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at hjones@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2652.