Tag: tax

Brevard’s hotel tax revenue in pandemic wound up better than anticipated

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Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Peter Cranis (Photo: PROVIDED PHOTO)

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Collections from Brevard County’s tourist development tax on hotel rooms topped $13 million for the budget year that ended Sept. 30.

While down nearly $3 million from the previous budget year, the total was higher than what Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Peter Cranis feared it might be after the coronavirus pandemic hit and tourism took a nosedive.

“I can’t say that I’m pleased with these final results,” Cranis said in releasing the numbers. “Any time you turn in a performance that is in the negative, it is difficult to be happy. But, considering everything we’ve been through, I’d say I’m a bit relieved that we did as well as we did.”

The county’s 5% tourist development tax on hotel rooms and other short-term rentals raised $13.07 million in the 2019-20 budget year, an 18.4% decline from the $16.02 million collected in the 2018-19 budget year. The hotel tax revenue is a widely followed economic indicator of how the tourism sector is performing.

More: Officials expect up to 250,000 day-trippers to drive near Cape for SpaceX astronaut launch

More: Brevard County commissioners narrowly approve 40 arts, cultural grants

Those figures indicate that hotels, motels and other short-term rental accommodations like recreational-vehicle parks, campgrounds and condos had $261.4 million in revenue from their accommodations in the 2019-20 budget year. That’s down from $320.4 million in the 2018-19 budget year. Those figures do not include revenue from food, beverage and retail sales at hotels, which are not assessed the tourist development tax.

Revenue from the tax pays for the operations and programs of the Space Coast Office of Tourism.

The largest share of the hotel tax money — 47% — is targeted for promotion and advertising of Space Coast tourism in an effort to attract more tourists.

The rest of the money is allocated this way: 25% for beach improvement, 14% for capital facilities, 5% for the Brevard Zoo, 4% for cultural events, 3% for Space Coast Stadium and 2% for visitor information centers.

The final tax revenue numbers wound up about $2 million better than Cranis feared in March, when tourism was shut down by COVID-19. Around that time, Cranis lowered his estimate for the 2019-20 hotel tax collections from the pre-pandemic estimate of $16.6 million to $11 million before gradually raising his estimates as tourism started to recover.

“Other destinations like Orange and Osceola counties are hurting much more than us,” Cranis said.

Business travel to the Space Coast — including by government contractors and people connected with the space program — are helping local hotels fill their rooms, Cranis said.

But the continued shutdown of the cruise industry, including at Port Canaveral, has hurt, especially for hotels in the Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach area. Hotels in that area in 2018-19 represented 39.9% of all hotel tax collections. That figure fell to 36.6% in 2019-20, indicating

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Chicopee eyes Community Preservation Act tax for historic preservation, recreation, open space

CHICOPEE — City residents are considering adding a tax surcharge to real estate bills that would help raise money for recreation, historic preservation, protecting open space and improving community housing.

Two decades ago the state adopted the Community Preservation Act, which allows communities to increase tax bills from anywhere between 1% and 3% and earmark that money for a variety of uses. The state also provides a partial match to the amount raised, estimated at about 17% this fiscal year.

About a year ago the Historical Commission formed a committee to examine adopting the act in Chicopee. City Planner Lee Pouliot is now assisting the group and working with the Law Department to find the best way to move forward with the idea, said Joshua Clark.

“I am, as chairman of the historical society, really, really excited about this,” Clark said. “It can raise a lot of money and raise awareness for historic preservation.”

The only way the act can be approved is if voters pass a ballot question, according to state law. The City Council and mayor can agree to place the question on the ballot, or supporters can collect enough signatures to bring the issue to the electorate, which is done less often.

If the act is adopted, a committee is appointed to review proposals and vote on how to spend the money raised each year, according to the state law.

A total of 186 communities in Massachusetts have adopted the act, including Springfield, which instituted a 1.5% surcharge in 2016 and raised about $1.4 million last year. Holyoke voters also approved a 1.5% surcharge in 2016 and raised about $579,400 in the last fiscal year. West Springfield, Westfield, Agawam, Northampton, Wilbraham, Easthampton and Pittsfield are also among those who have instituted the act.

The city funds a lot of projects the Community Preservation Act supports, such as park improvements, but it could be helpful to have money dedicated to recreation and historic improvements. If the city receives a grant that needs a matching amount, Community Preservation Act money could be used for that, Pouliot said.

The guidelines for how the money can be spent are broad, meaning that it can benefit the city in many ways such as funding a project that wasn’t anticipated in the budget, he said.

“I think we should look at all funding opportunities. Every dollar counts, particularly in this economy,” he said. “Once we better understand the administrative side there needs to be an educational campaign to dispel myths.”

The Historical Commission is hoping to join with other groups such as the Recreation Commission to work toward putting the question on the ballot and to educate voters. With a $500 annual budget, the Historical Commission will not be able to do the work alone, Clark said.

“People are going to be asked to increase tax money. Especially in a pandemic that is a hard ask, but we are trying to improve the neighborhoods in Chicopee,” he said.

Clark argued if historic properties

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Orange hotel tax collection inch up as virus continues to spread

Hotel taxes inched up again in September, the final month of a fiscal year which witnessed a historic crash of Orange County’s tourism economy crippled by a pandemic which continues to grip not only the region, but the nation and the world.

Revenue from the county’s levy on short-term lodging totaled $7.03 million in September, up from $5.78 million in August but a far cry from the $17.7 million collected in September 2019 when tourists packed theme parks to experience adventures and attractions built around Star Wars, Toy Story and boy wizard Harry Potter.

This year’s total collections were once expected to hit a record of nearly $300 million, but once the pandemic took hold fell to a different record, instead. Total collections amounted to just $167.3 million compared to $284 million last year.

“That’s the biggest year-over-year decrease in the history of the tax,” said Orange Comptroller Phil Diamond.

Officials said said there was a bright spot to be found in September’s increase over August and decreased expenses — particularly a halt on spending for a planned expansion to the Orange County Convention Center — which means the county is now drawing down its reserve fund at a slower clip and one Diamond called more “sustainable.”

“There are really definite signs of hope,” he said. “We’ve increased every month since April. Travel has been increasing as travelers become more comfortable with safety protocols and our region’s relatively low COVID-19 rates.”

Theme parks and other attractions closed in mid-March because of the pandemic, and began re-opening at limited capacity in June. Gradually, some tourism activity is picking back up, though Diamond noted continued outbreaks across the country that are likely to stall travel plans.

”One factor, we think, is that there have not been any widespread reported infections stemming from the parks, the tourism areas or anywhere that should give anybody, any concern.”

He said news from Pfizer on Monday that early data shows an effective vaccine is “very encouraging and very welcome.”

But the virus continued to stampede through Central Florida with new deaths and more cases reported on Monday.

Dr. Raul Pino, Orange’s state health officer, said 19 more deaths were added to the count since Friday, though it was unclear when those individuals died.

“Our data shows that cases are increasing,” he said, encouraging people to continue wearing masks, washing their hands and keeping socially-distant from others.

He said many of the cases in Orange seem to be transmitted among people who know each other who came in close contact at a social gathering such as a birthday party or other event, though he said no outbreaks had been traced to the large political rallies that occurred in the weeks before the election.

Pino also said there was a mix-up at the health department that resulted in 26 students at Bridgewater Middle School in the Winder Garden area not receiving a notification over the weekend that they should quarantine. As a result of an e-mail not being

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Take a look at Terrebonne’s great recreation tax subsidy

Terrebonne Parish Council member Jessica Domangue (Photo: –)

It’s 1987. The Louisiana Transportation Department has started construction of perhaps the most transformative public works project in Terrebonne Parish history: a modern five-lane extension of Tunnel Boulevard later known as Martin Luther King Boulevard. A complete afterthought is it just so happens to meander through the uninhabited swamps and cane fields of mostly one single recreation district formed years earlier.

For property taxes to support recreation, people often think in terms of residential property. However, commercial development has a much more profound impact.

First, commercial properties are not subject to the homestead exemption, which shields the first $75,000 of a home’s value from property taxes.

Second, commercial buildings are assessed at 15% of fair market value rather than the 10% for homes.

Third, merchandise, fixtures and equipment are assessed at 15% of fair market value.

Recreation District 2-3 is the most heavily subsidized district from commercial development. Businesses pay about $1,051,771, or 65%, of the district’s total budget, according to the parish Assessor’s Office. Much of this figure comes from dozens of faceless, non-voting national corporations along MLK Blvd. that do not utilize any recreation resource whatsoever. For example, this year alone, Target pays $8,134, Wal-Mart pays $13,229, Home Depot pays $8,725, and Lowe’s pays $12,447.

Some people delight in that Rec 2-3 has the lowest millage, or property tax rate, in the parish at 5 mills. Frankly, most of the 11 recreation districts in Terrebonne could be at 5 mills if they received the MLK Blvd. Subsidy every year.

This subsidy drives to the heart of efforts to thwart modernizing recreation in our parish, invoking a philosophical debate on conservative values.

On one hand, its indisputable some degree of reorganizing the districts would result in better stewardship of taxpayer money: less duplication of costs, better economies of scale and less potential for waste, fraud, and abuse. As such, it would mean less taxes need to be collected to pay for recreation facilities like gyms and parks. It would lower property taxes for tens of thousands of residents. These all sound like pillars of conservatism.

On the other hand, it would require residents of Rec 2-3 to divide the unearned MLK Blvd. Subsidy with more residents across the parish who also spend their taxpayer money at these businesses. Even though the parish would be collecting less money in taxes and have less bureaucracy, there exists the potential for a slight millage increase for residents of Rec 2-3. In an alternative interpretation of conservatism, that is a deal breaker.

More: New board to examine recreation issues in Terrebonne

More: Panel gets started on possible reforms to Terrebonne’s recreation system

More: Council member: Let’s ask Terrebonne voters whether to consolidate rec districts

If we are to apply this same standard of conservatism to national legislation, then logically, we should be opposed to the Republican-led Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. It resulted in historic tax cuts, triggered economic growth and fostered smaller

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District grants disputed $46 million tax abatement to Adams Morgan hotel

The audit also concluded the developer did not meet a mandate to grant all its apprenticeships to District residents.

The Bowser administration approved the abatement “after a confidential mediation with the Office of the Attorney General, review of additional documentation submitted to the OAG and updated legal guidance,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Employment Services said in a statement Friday.

The granting of the tax subsidy was first announced by the Line, which has long contended that it met all requirements. Jake Lamstein, the managing partner of the Sydell Group, which developed the Line, said in a statement that the hotel had been “vindicated.”

“In a time of such uncertainty it is nice to see that facts and law still prevail over the self interest of a very few,” he said.

But council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), chair of the council’s Labor and Workforce Committee, said she wants to review the new information the hotel presented to the District.

“I’m surprised and angry the council was not alerted to this redetermination,” said Silverman, who had been unaware that the District had granted the subsidy. “We want to understand what changed to meet these milestones.”

The spokeswoman for the employment services agency did not respond to a request for additional detail on why it issued the subsidy.

Michael Robbins, a Line spokesman, said the hotel gave “the same” documentation it had previously submitted to the District. He said the employment services agency “failed to properly review” that documentation when it was turned over in 2019.

Unique Morris-Hughes, the agency’s director, wrote in an October letter to the District’s chief financial officer, that her office had “conducted a compliance review” and concluded that the Line had met its hiring requirement.

Morris-Hughes also wrote that her agency, guided by a “legal opinion” from the attorney general’s office, had concluded that the hotel had met the requirement of reserving all apprenticeships for D.C. residents “because no District resident who requested an apprenticeship was turned away.”

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office declined to comment, citing attorney-client privilege.

Of the project’s 31 apprenticeships, 14 went to District residents, according to the March audit. That total fell far short of what community leaders were expecting, said Bryan Weaver, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner who helped conceive the tax abatement legislation.

“They didn’t try to get people in the neighborhood, which was the whole idea behind it,” he said. “Everything about this was, how are we going to get local people jobs?”

Weaver was the first to question whether the developer had met the requirements of the tax abatement legislation, which the council passed a decade ago.

In 2019, the employment services agency recommended that the Sydell Group pay a $600,000 fine instead of losing the abatement. But Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) advised at the time that the legislation required strict adherence to the requirements.

At one point, the hotel created a website that included a list of what it said were

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Oakland County voters overwhelmingly approve parks and recreation tax increase | Elections

For the first time in 54 years, Oakland County voters approved a tax increase to support the operation and maintenance of the county’s parks and recreation system. 

It was the first tax increase asked by the 13-park system in over five decades, but it’s clear that voters were not deterred by the ask just by looking at the approval margin. 

Voters overwhelmingly approved the proposal, which increased the tax rate from .2310 mills ($0.23 per $1,000 taxable value) to .35 mills ($0.35 per $1,000 taxable value). The new rate will cost the owner of a home or business valued at $200,000 (taxable value of $100,000 approximately) $12 more, for a total of $35 year to maintain the parks system.

VOTE TOTALS

  • YES: 537,689 votes, 76.32%
  • NO: 166,841 votes, 23.68%

The county’s park system, which attracts 2 million visitors annually, has a combined 7,000 acres and 80 miles of trails. The additional revenue will be used to improve, operate, and maintain park, open space, infrastructure, facilities, water areas, trails, and recreation areas. . 

Holly Oaks ORV opened its gates for the first time on Thursday, Sept. 17 greeted by a roaring line of vehicles ready to ride.



Democrats dominate Oakland County ballots on Election Day

Oakland County is a little more blue than it was 24 hours ago. 

How will new funding be used?

  • Free county park day-use passes to seniors (62+), veterans, active military and individuals with permanent disabilities
  • Expanding the trails network
  • Improving environment protection and sustainability efforts
  • Continuing funding for OCPR’s annual operations
  • Repairing deferred maintenance in county parks
  • Preserving and supporting community partnerships that expand recreation opportunities for residents

Clerks in some of Oakland County’s largest communities are calling Election Day a challenge due to the surge in absentee ballots, but an overa…

The system’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget totals $28 million. It was developed based on the need to maintain, improve and manage more than 230 assets, buildings, natural areas and recreation features.

The system’s capital improvement program and maintenance management plan projects are budgeted at $2.79 million. Here’s a list of some of the major projects planned for 2021:

  • Replacement of the children’s water feature at Red Oaks Waterpark in Madison Heights
  • Replacement of HVAC system at the Activity Center in Springfield Oaks County Park
  • Electrical improvements at Addison Oaks County Park’s Conference Center
  • Natural area restoration at the Mill Pond Dam in Springfield Oaks County Park
  • Continued Natural Resource stewardship at all park locations
  • Replacement of the irrigation system at White Lake Oaks County Park
  • Upgrades to the disc golf course at Addison Oaks County Park
  • Painting the historic Ellis Barn at Springfield Oaks County Park in Davisburg

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Voters Support Hotel Tax, Unofficial Elections Results Show

Voters in San Mateo County cities mostly supported increased transient occupancy tax (TOT) rates – sometimes referred to as a “hotel tax” – which are paid by out-of-town visitors to help fund city services.

Ballot measures proposing increased TOT rates in the cities of San Bruno, San Mateo and Half Moon Bay so far met the majority needed to pass, with over 70 percent of yes votes for each city, according to unofficial results early Wednesday morning and 100 percent of precincts reporting. However, support in East Palo Alto lagged behind.

Half Moon Bay’s Measure U received 74 percent yes votes. San Mateo’s Measure W received 76.1 percent yes votes. San Bruno’s Measure X received 72.6 percent yes votes. The measures propose increasing the tax rate from 12 percent to 14 percent, and to 15 percent for Half Moon Bay.

Revenue will be used to maintain public health and safety, improve emergency responses, disaster preparedness, and other general city services for the respective cities.


San Mateo Mayor Joe Goethals said that the overwhelming support for the measure is “an acknowledgement by our residents of what we are going through and how our revenues have been impacted by Covid-19.”

Goethals said the city is facing a structural deficit of $7 million and reduced revenue in sales taxes.

“It’s going to take time to see additional revenue because at the moment we’re not seeing a lot of occupancy in our hotels,” Goethals said about Measure W. “But it will be a key component to the recovery so that we don’t have to engage in layoffs and so that service levels to our residents do not drop off considerably.”

In East Palo Alto, Measure V – which requires a 2/3 approval since revenue will be used specifically for affordable housing – received only 63 percent yes votes so far.

Measure V proposes increasing the TOT from 12 percent to 14 percent by 2023, and is estimated to generate $195,000 in the first year and $390,000 annually thereafter. Revenue would help the city acquire and rehabilitate vacant or at-risk properties. It could potentially support a community land trust model – according to the “EPA for Measure V” support campaign – whereby the city acquires homes and makes them affordable to low-income families.

“We really felt that it was important to add money to a land trust and make it possible for some people to be able to buy (property),” East Palo Alto Councilmember and former mayor Ruben Abrica said. Abrica, along with the other councilmembers and Mayor Regina Wallace-Jones, endorsed Measure V.

With more votes to be counted, Abrica is hopeful that the measure can still pass as the community has generally been supportive of affordable housing.

He said people might be hesitant to support the tax since it’s the first time the city is raising the TOT rate, or they may not agree with the specific designation for the funds. Some voters may believe in a free market for short-term rentals.

The Silicon

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Votes are in on a proposed new tax for recreation in Lake Wylie. Here’s the verdict.

York County

A new tax district to pay for recreation in York County got the votes it needed Tuesday.

Early voting and early precinct reporting show support for a Lake Wylie ballot question Tuesday. As of 10 p.m. almost 63% of voters had voted in favor. That number comes with in-person absentee votes counted along with election day votes in five of 11 precincts.

Before 11 p.m. all precincts reported. More than 61% of more than 13,000 votes chose in favor of the tax district. Numbers won’t be certified for several days.

The ballot question asked if a special tax district should be created. It would create funds to acquire greenspace property, conservation, historic restoration, passive recreation and interactive community uses.

Taxes levied by the new district would be capped at $10 million in construction or land acquisition. An annual expense cost cap is $500,000. The district could charge up to five mills per year.

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A governing board would be created, similar to special fire tax districts in York County. Lake Wylie also has a separate recreation tax district voters approved four years ago to create and run the newly opened Field Day Park.

York County Councilwoman Allison Love, who represents Lake Wylie, ran unopposed Tuesday night for another term. Love said earlier this year the new tax district vote would have the same geographical footprint of the park one four years ago.

A petition signed by more than 15% of eligible voters within the proposed district brought on the vote. It covers about 29,000 people.

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©2020 The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

Visit The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.) at www.heraldonline.com

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Early votes are in on a proposed new tax for recreation in Lake Wylie.

York County

Early signs point to a new tax district to pay for recreation in York County, but numbers aren’t final.

Early voting and early precinct reporting show support for a Lake Wylie ballot question Tuesday. As of 10 p.m. almost 63% of voters had voted in favor. That number comes with in-person absentee votes counted along with election day votes in five of 11 precincts.

The ballot question asked if a special tax district should be created. It would create funds to acquire greenspace property, conservation, historic restoration, passive recreation and interactive community uses.

Taxes levied by the new district would be capped at $10 million in construction or land acquisition. An annual expense cost cap is $500,000. The district could charge up to five mills per year.

A governing board would be created, similar to special fire tax districts in York County. Lake Wylie also has a separate recreation tax district voters approved four years ago to create and run the newly opened Field Day Park.

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York County Councilwoman Allison Love, who represents Lake Wylie, ran unopposed Tuesday night for another term. Love said earlier this year the new tax district vote would have the same geographical footprint of the park one four years ago.

A petition signed by more than 15% of eligible voters within the proposed district brought on the vote. It covers about 29,000 people.

Both early voting and the first half of precincts supported the measure. Final results won’t be certified for several days.

Check back for more.

———

©2020 The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

Visit The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.) at www.heraldonline.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Novato Voters Approve Hotel Tax Hike, San Rafael Passes Sales Tax Increase

Novato residents Tuesday appeared to favor, by a three-to-one margin, a ballot measure that would increase the city’s hotel tax by 2 percent.

With all 13 of the city’s precincts reporting, slightly more than 77 percent of Novato voters favored the “transient occupancy tax” increase. The city’s current transient occupancy tax is 10 percent of a hotel guest’s room rate and has remained unchanged since 1997.

The 2 percent hotel tax increase would provide an additional $400,000 in annual tax revenue, according to city officials.

Novato collected $1.82 million in hotel tax revenue during the 2019-2020 fiscal year but is projected to collect only $1.45 million during the 2020-2021 fiscal year.


City officials estimate the tax increase could boost hotel tax revenue by $400,000 in its first 12 months. All hotel tax funding is used to fund local expenditures like infrastructure repairs, emergency response services and recovery efforts from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Elsewhere in Marin County, San Rafael voters appeared poised to approve a quarter-cent sales tax increase over nine years that is estimated to generate some $3.4 million per year for services like street repairs, disaster preparedness and park maintenance.

Just over 62 percent of San Rafael voters approved of the measure, according to the county’s unofficial election results.

The measure’s approval would nudge the city’s sales tax rate to 9.25 percent. All sales tax revenue would be placed in the city’s general fund, according to San Rafael City Attorney Robert Epstein.

Unofficial results also showed Marin County voters overwhelmingly supporting three school district funding measures, including a pair of parcel tax extensions.

The Shoreline Unified School District’s Measure L, which would extend a $212 per parcel tax for eight years, had roughly 84 percent support from voters with both of the district’s precincts reporting.

Measure M, which would extend the Tamalpais Union High School District’s $469 annual per parcel tax for nine years, had nearly 74 percent support, according to unofficial results from the district’s 57 precincts.

Some 77 percent of voters in the Sausalito Marin City School District appeared to support a measure that would authorize the district to issue $41.6 million in bonds, which district officials said will fund the construction and modernization of classrooms and upgrades to the district’s libraries and science labs, among other things.

Marin County election officials have reported 101,111 ballots cast as of Tuesday night. Approximate 58 percent of the county’s registered voters cast a ballot, according to the county.

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