Council to consider tourist tax hike, funding for downtown security pilot program

The cost of booking a hotel room in Turlock could increase by 5 percent in 2025 if a proposed tourist tax increase is approved by the City Council on Tuesday and voters on the 2024 ballot.

The Turlock City Council is scheduled to consider beginning the process to amend the transitional occupancy tax rate, increasing it from 9% to 14% and placing the amendment on the November 2024 ballot.

The Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is a short-term rental tax for each city. The tax was originally intended to compensate local governments for the increased public service costs incurred by serving local tourists. This tax is only collected for stays that are 30 consecutive calendar days or less.

The TOT is currently part of the city’s general fund revenue. Currently, the city’s TOT revenues are distributed as follows: Fund 110 General Fund (66.67%), Fund 120 Tourism (20%) and Fund 205 Sports Facilities (13.33%).

General Fund revenue is used to help impact public services (police, fire, entertainment, etc.). The Tourism Fund uses its revenue to promote and support special events in the community. Whereas the Sports Facilities Fund supports operations for Pedretti Park and the Regional Sports Complex.

The General Fund is projected to increase $740,510.48 and a total for all funds of $1,110,710.18 by raising the rate to 14%. According to the staff report on the Council agenda item, the new funds could help with public safety, recreation, roads and any other services the city provides.

Since this revenue is a tax, a vote is required to change the rate from 9% to 14%. Staff is seeking Council authorization to begin the process of developing the ballot measure and to hire a consultant for the services needed to prepare for the November 2024 election.

Also on Tuesday, the Council is expected to:

· – Accept a comprehensive compensation study from Sloan Sakai Yeung & Wong LLP. On April 11, 2023, the City Council approved Sloan Sakai to conduct a comprehensive compensation and classification study at the City’s request. The consultants completed it in October 2023. The consultants surveyed 10 agencies based on instructions from City staff and included 34 classifications. After determining the survey agencies and comparable classes, the consultants determined the most useful data and provided a written report providing the City with data summaries and findings;

· – Consider allocating $20,650 from the 120 Tourism Fund to the pilot program to improve security in downtown Turlock. The pilot program will fund the first year’s costs for up to 59 downtown businesses to participate in the Fusus CCTV program. Downtown businesses interested in participating in the pilot program will be assisted by the Turlock Police Department to facilitate the onboarding process to Fusus. Participating businesses will be required to provide a general release of liability in favor of the City to use the Fusus service. After the end of the first year, if the Participating Business wishes to continue the Fusus Service, the Participating Business will be responsible for the annual subscription costs payable to Fusus; and

· – Consider applying for MORE grant funds (Housing and Revitalization Opportunity Program) from the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development in the amount of approximately $3.5 million. If approved, the City of Turlock can use the funds to make renovations to residents’ mobile homes to correct health and safety deficiencies, make accessibility improvements and energy efficiency improvements.

The Turlock City Council will meet Tuesday at 6:00 PM in the Yosemite Room at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway. A full Council agenda and packet for Tuesday’s meeting can be found at: https://www.cityofturlock.org/government/turlockcitycouncil/councilmeetings.asp

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