Red Bluff Council Sends RV Tax Issue to Voters
Deciding it couldn't wait another two years to settle a dispute, the Red Bluff City Council in Red Bluff, Calif., adopted a resolution Tuesday (July 17) to allow voters to decide whether RV parks should be subject to the city's Transient Occupancy Tax.
City Manager Richard Crabtree said the dispute between the city and Durango RV Resort had been simmering for years. City staff had suggested sending the issue to voters to avoid a potential lengthy and costly legal battle, the Red Bluff Daily News reported.
The city imposes a 10 percent tax on room fees to guests in a wide variety of commercial lodging establishments.
Durango employees have said they once tried to pay the tax in the past, but were told they didn't have to. Then years later the city asked them to pay.
City staff estimated the dispute cost the city about $52,000 during the first six months of 2012. Durango employees say that number is too high.
The 1965 ordinance that created the tax lists a vast array of lodging, but did not specifically list RV parks.
In September 2011, the city amended the ordnance to specifically list RV parks.
At Tuesday's meeting, a former Durango employee told the council there has always been tension between the resort and the city because of the way the dispute was originally handled.
She said she preferred sending the decision to the voters to decide.
This is just the right thing to do, she said.
But resort manager Pam Capello asked the council to delay its decision, saying the owner did not find out about the resolution until reading it in the newspaper earlier that morning.
Capello said, since Durango is the only RV park within city limits, the tax could potentially affect its business with a perceived rate hike other local establishments would not have.
Crabtree, citing a July 30 election deadline, told the council if it did not act at Tuesday's meeting it would have to wait two years until the next election to have the issue placed on the ballot.
Councilman Rob Schmid said nobody wanted to wait an additional two years to settle the dispute.
Councilwoman Daniele Jackson and Mayor Forrest Flynn said they were already content the amended ordinance gave the city the right to collect from Durango.
They joined Schmid and Councilman Wayne Brown in voting yes for the resolution.
Councilman Bob Carrel voted against it.
The resolution required four-fifths approval from the council to be placed on the November ballot.
A simple majority from voters would pass the ordinance.
Crabtree said Durango would have plenty of time to convince voters of their argument and even said there was a possibility the measure could be yanked from the ballot after he meets with the resort's lawyers in August.
We'll get it cleared up one way or another in November, Flynn said.