Ann Nichols: Tahoe businesses and locals, are you ready for another tax?
If you live in eastern Placer County you should be very worried. The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association (NLTRA) has received preliminary Placer County Approval to form a Tourist Business Improvement District (TBID) which intends to levy a compulsory tax you will never see on a ballot. We used to call this taxation without representation, maybe we still should? Increases in tax are supposed to be approved by 2/3 of the voters. Although the relatively new cottage industry that promotes TBIDs call the extra percentage charge an assessment, it’s really a TAX. It’s another anachronism-another layer of bureaucracy — and FINALLY another plucking of the Lake Tahoe Golden Goose?
Never heard of a TBID? It’s the latest in twilight zone financing methods that’s been around since 1990 and has become big business. It’s an agreement between tourism-focused businesses — usually hotels, but in this case also short term lodging, restaurants and recreation. The “assessment” is a percentage of business gross revenue. That pooled money usually goes towards marketing and sales endeavors. But lucky us — this time they are also taking on affordable housing, garbage and transportation with the idea of shoulder bus lanes on SR 89 and SR 267. They can even decide to spend the money outside of North Lake Tahoe. In short, businesses that rely more than 20% on tourism pool money to drive even more tourism to their area. Well, the Tahoe secret is out … do we need more tourism in the shoulder seasons as the proposal outlines? The proposed TBID scheme encompasses the geographical location that includes eastern Placer County which is North Shore, Northstar and Squaw/Alpine and taxes 2% on North Shore lodging and 1% on Squaw/Alpine/Northstar lodging. Any business making more than $150k gross yearly pays 1% on their revenue. The Resort Association estimates raking in $10 million yearly.
TBIDs have sprouted up all over and are touted as successes, but the metrics for success are vague as are the proposed investments. When you tax individuals and receive more money in the pot — is that automatically a success? Everyone wants affordable housing, garbage pick-up and transportation solutions, but numerous entities have been pursuing these dreams for years. We need to think out of the box and deal with Tahoe’s capacity limit first.
The TBID governance will be run by the Resort Association and stacked by big resorts. These people were not elected and the governance structure that will manage the initial $10 million pool of yearly monies are not elected. What gives them the right? The entity is stacked with big resorts. They can call it a fee or an assessment or a tax, but you will pay it. In fact, the percentage will continue to increase as it has in other TBID’s.
Although the sales pitch is local control of our money. Do we want the big resorts making the decisions on the future of Lake Tahoe? Feeding at the Tahoe financial trough and enabling more development?
Tell Placer County this is no way to run the County’s business.
Please send your concerns to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ann Nichols is a 51 year North Shore resident, Nv and Ca. Real Estate Broker, President of the North Tahoe Preservation Alliance, avid oil painter and outdoors gal.
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