Hoteliers support increased bed tax in Lompoc | Local News

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Lompoc City Council 5-3-2022

Members of the Lompoc city council opened the door to the increase in the transitional occupancy tax when they asked city staff on May 3 to begin preparing a ballot initiative that would place more funds in the Public Security Department safes.

Councilor Gilda Cordova recused herself due to financial interests in hospitality and related business in Lompoc, the remaining council members voted 4-0 to place an initiative on the November ballot. If approved by a two-thirds majority, the city’s transitional occupancy tax, also known as the bed tax, charged to hotel visitors staying 30 days or less would increase from 10% to 11 %.

When hotels use credit cards, they have to pay bank charges for the service. The initiative would also include a 2% credit collection fee to help hoteliers cover costs incurred when collecting the tax by credit card – the preferred method of payment for an overwhelming majority of hotel guests. .

At the request of hoteliers, the funds raised by the City as a result of the increase would go to public safety, with 65% going to the police department and 35% to the fire department.

The project has been in the works for about a year, according to City Attorney Jeff Malawy.

Currently, guests visiting Lompoc accommodation establishments pay 10% TOT, plus a 3% Tourism Improvement District Tax. The combined 13% tax is largely in line with other municipalities in Santa Barbara County, Malawy reported.

The city’s revenue from this year’s TOT is expected to be $2.3 million, so a 1% increase would bring in an additional $230,000. Of this amount, $50,600 would be returned to the hotels to cover credit card service charges.

“In our time with the environment that we’ve all been through, I think a specific tax would actually have a very good chance of passing, especially for a designated purpose like public safety or police and fire,” said said Councilman Victor Vega. .

Indeed, several hoteliers in the city appeared before council on Monday to support the initiative, including: Paul Patel of Quality Inn & Executive Suites, Lompoc Valley Inn & Suites and board member of Visit Lompoc LLC (Explore Lompoc); Sylvia King; Suraj Patel of the Hilton Garden Inn; and Sylvia Lizarde, general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn.

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Mayor Pro Tem Jeremy Ball pointed out that the increased revenue, while helpful, wouldn’t even fund the addition of a full-time police officer or a part-time firefighter.

“It’s a small incremental improvement and should absolutely be added to the budget we already spend on public safety,” Ball said.

The city council also approved spending of American Rescue Plan Act funds earmarked for parks and recreation to include: resurfacing and renovation of tennis courts at Ryon Park; the conversion of two asphalt tennis courts at Ryon Park into eight permanent concrete pickleball courts; fund the development of the Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan; and renovating the Johns-Manville Park ball diamond restrooms and concession stand.

The board also approved the recommendation of Chanel Ovalle, Community Development Program Manager, to allocate block funding from the Community Development Grant for Housing and Urban Development in the United States as follows: $169,575 for salaries and unfunded accrued liabilities for program administration; $784,199 for park improvements; and $50,000 for the Catholic Charities Mobile and Single-Family Housing Emergency Repair Program. In addition, staff recommended approval of $15,000 each to: Catholic charities; Lompoc community recreation programs; Good Samaritan Refuge; North County Rape and Child Protection Center; Association Transitions-Mental Health; and $15,088 each to the United Boys & Girls Club and the Lompoc YMCA.

In a general vote on the agenda by consent, the board unanimously:

— Passed a resolution declaring the intention to levy annual park and pool assessments for fiscal year 2022-23, tentatively approved an engineer’s report, gave notice of public hearing for the assessment district of the maintenance of city parks and swimming pools;

— Increase in the city’s fleet fuel budget by $396,558 for the remainder of the 2021-2022 fiscal year and by $753,000 for the 2022-2023 fiscal year to take into account the increase in fuel costs; and

– Passed a resolution to secure the second payment of state and local COVID-19 fiscal stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan Act program.

Council also met behind closed doors to discuss with staff labor negotiations with the Lompoc Police Officers Association and IBEW Local 1245.

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