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Voters likely will have the opportunity in November to approve or deny an increase in San Benito County’s transient occupancy tax from 8 percent to 12 percent to raise money to fund items like tourism-friendly projects and infrastructure improvements. If approved by a simple majority, the tax is expected to bring in up to $128,400 annually, a nearly $43,000 increase over the roughly $85,000 in TOT tax collected in fiscal year 2011-2012. Supervisors will take up the issue again at their next meeting.

The Board of Supervisors last week voted 4-1, with Robert Rivas opposed, to select 12 percent as the top transient occupancy tax rate. The current 8 percent tax, levied in unincorporated areas of the county, was adopted in 1986. A TOT is charged in California to guests occupying a room or rooms or other living space in a hotel, inn, tourist home or house, motel or other lodging when the stay is 30 days or fewer. The funds are directed to the county’s general fund and can be used in a variety of ways. The TOT is not a tax on business operators.

In a report to the board, County Management Analyst Sara Fontanos said potential uses for the revenue include “to mitigage the impacts of tourism and to fund tourism-friendly projects that benefit the County as a whole such as public parks, historical and environmental preservation, and improvements to infrastructure, and any other general fund functions.”

Fontanos said the ordinance is expected to say the tax will be “up to 12 percent, rather than setting a 12 percent flat rate.” She said that wording would allow flexibility for the board to vary the tax rate between 8 percent and 12 percent with a resolution.

The board also considered leaving the transient occupancy tax rate at 8 percent or raising it to 9, 10, 11 or 12 percent. Increased revenue projections ranged from just under $11,000 to nearly $43,000 for the different proposed tax rates. San Benito County TOT revenue from the past five years is as follows:

  • – Fiscal year 2007/08: $85,697
  • – FY 08/09: $93,135
  • – FY 09/10: $82,005
  • – FY 10/11: $81,840
  • – FY 11/12: $85,478