Durango RV Resort Loses Tax Challenge
Hosts at recreational vehicle parks and campgrounds in Red Bluff, Calif., should no longer have any questions about whether they are required to charge and collect transient occupancy tax (TOT) from visitors, the Red Bluff Daily News reported.
The Red Bluff City Council Tuesday (Sept. 6) amended a several decades-old policy to specifically include RV parks and campgrounds as being among the type of visitor accommodations that must collect TOT.
City officials have long maintained that the TOT ordinance, which was first adopted in the '60s, has always been applicable to RV parks and campgrounds. The amendment is a clarification only and does not change or expand the tax base.
Others see the amendment as a direct target on Durango RV Resort and an expansion of the tax base.
The target has been at Durango and not any other resorts, such as River's Edge RV Park, Durango manager Pam Cappello said.
In this bad economy, the target on Durango is telling all struggling businesses that the city is not there to support them.
Think about what you're saying to our community and new businesses, Cappello said. You're telling them after three years in business you'll get slapped with another tax.
Resident John Elko said the original ordinance does not include RV parks and campgrounds, which means the amendment is an expansion of the tax base and needs to be put up to a vote as required by Proposition 218.
The craving for more tax money seems to have blinded the city as to what the original 1965 ordinance really says, Elko said.
The amendment was passed by a vote of 3-2 with councilmen Rob Schmid and Forrest Flynn dissenting.
Flynn had earlier made a motion to scrap the amendment and leave the ordinance as is, but his motion failed due to a lack of support.
If the city attorney and the staff are saying the city already has the right to collect TOT under the existing ordinance, then there is no need for the change, he said.
If we change in the middle of the stream, it's us saying there's something wrong with it, Flynn said.
Pat Patterson, a guest at Durango, agreed with Flynn, saying if the city is going to fight with Durango, it needs to continue fighting on the same ground and the same wording in order for the fight to be fair.
City Attorney Richard Crabtree said the clarification is not required, as the city has always interpreted the ordinance to include RV parks and campground and the change is not is it aimed at Durango. The city has tried to enforce the policy with Durango to no avail. The change is for businesses down the road.
If there's a legal battle with Durango, it will be on the old verbiage, not new, Crabtree said.