Truckee TOT increase to appear on November ballot

For the past several months, Truckee Town Council has had deliberations on a proposed ballot measure that would increase the transient occupancy tax by 2%, generating approximately $700,000 per year.

During a March 10 meeting, Town Council members spent considerable time discussing the potential ballot measure, which would increase the transient occupancy tax from 10% to 12%. Due to the increase in the transient occupancy tax originally being identified as a way to increase funding for affordable, workforce and local housing, the council members were divided on whether the increase would be collected as a general tax or special tax.

General taxes can be approved by a simple majority of voters and are not earmarked for a any specific purpose. A special tax must be approved by at least two-thirds of local voters, and revenue collected would be used for specific programs or projects, like increasing the inventory of affordable housing.

Town Council requested staff work with Terris Barnes Walters Boigon Heath, Inc. to perform additional polling of likely voters to help inform its decision on the matter.

Between May 23-31, surveys were administered to a random sample of 905 registered voters likely to participate in the November 2020 election. True North Research provided analysis of the polling results and found “very strong support from likely November 2020 voters for both the general tax and special tax options, with a higher level of support for a general tax.”

In the survey’s initial ballot test, 86% of respondents indicated that they would probably or definitely support for the general tax option; while 81% said they would probably or definitely support to measure if it went toward a special tax.

Ultimately, Town Council approved of a ballot measure for a 2% general tax transient occupancy tax increase, which will be decided by voters this November.

COVID-19 and housing needs

During Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, staff indicated that COVID-19 has impacted an already troubled affordable and local housing market.

Lost jobs and reduced hours resulted in rental assistance needs with more than 80 households applying for rental assistance funding within the first 24 hours of the program opening.

Town staff also indicated that conversations with local rental apartment property managers showed rental deferrals jumped from 10% in April to as much as 75% in May.

Anecdotally, staff also said they’ve observed an increase in the number of people relocating to the Truckee-Tahoe region, due to flexibility allowed by long-term remote working.

“This demand continues to drive up our home prices ,which is the opposite of what we’d typically expect to see during an economic downturn,” said Truckee Management Analyst Hilary Hobbs. “So clearly, the housing need is here … it’s still a big issue for our community.”

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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