RV Park Tax Dispute Heads to a Fall Solution?

July 20, 2012 by   - () 1 Comment

A long-simmering dispute between the city of Red Bluff, Calif., and its only RV park over the transient occupancy tax may be settled on the November ballot.

The city council this week voted 4-1 to submit to voters an ordinance restating what’s already on the books — that the 10 percent “bed” tax applies to RV parks, camping sites and campgrounds, the Redding Record-Searchlight reported.

The council’s action stems from efforts over recent years to collect the tax from Durango RV Resort, which opened in 2008.

In June 2011, city Finance Director Sandy Ryan sent a letter to resort management demanding almost $42,000 of taxes, interest and penalties.

While the city has maintained such facilities have been covered by its ordinance all along, it wasn’t until September that it was amended to specifically name RV parks and campgrounds in the definition of “hotel.” Officials at the time deemed the move a clarification, not an expansion of the tax.

City Manager Rick Crabtree said Thursday (July 19) that Durango lawyers disagreed, arguing the move was illegal under Proposition 218, the 1996 Right to Vote on Taxes Act, and suggesting the matter be put on the ballot.

“Rather than entering into a potentially protracted and expensive legal battle over these issues, staff recommends that the City Council submit the issue to voters for resolution,” Crabtree wrote in a report to the council.

He estimated the city’s loss in revenue from the 174-space resort at $52,000 for the first six months of this year.

Contacted Thursday, Durango co-manager Pam Cappello said she was concerned about how the tax would affect the business and its “competitive edge.”

“There’s not so much consideration for the fiscal impact to the resort,” she said. Still, Cappello looks forward to a resolution of the issue.

“We now have an opportunity to present this to the people of Red Bluff and let them make a decision,” she said.

Red Bluff’s original ordinance was adopted in 1965, setting the bed tax at 4 percent, and it was amended several times over the years.

The tax applies only to stays of 30 days or less and proceeds go into the general fund.

In Redding, RV parks pay a 10 percent bed tax, Deputy City Manager Greg Clark said.

Also Thursday, Councilman Bob Carrel  said he dissented on Tuesday’s vote because he believed a ballot measure was unnecessary.

“I just felt we had a strong enough ordinance,” he said.

Meanwhile, Durango lawyers have since scheduled an Aug. 23 meeting with city officials, Crabtree said, well past the Aug. 10 deadline to drop it from the ballot.

The election is expected to cost about $5,000.


One Response to “RV Park Tax Dispute Heads to a Fall Solution?”

  1. Jason Stevesson on November 2nd, 2012 4:32 pm

    I fully oppose taxing the RV parks. The original ordinance listed “Structures” that could be used for temporary lodging for transient visitors. The nature of RV parks, campgrounds and similar business are there are no “Structures”. Visitors are staying in ”Vehicles” or personal shelters (tents, sleeping bags, ect).

    In 2011, the City decided they should “Clarify” the ordinance to call the vehicles and tents people brought with them to mean “Structures”. This was done so that they could claim it was not an “expansion” of the ordinance, and they would not have to abide by State law under Proposition 218, which would call for a ballot measure to expand a tax. I believe that their vote was illegal, and should be declared invalid.

    I travel at times, and have had to pay the local TOT. It really grates on me because this TAX is imposed on me without ever being voted on by me or my elected representatives. (Remember your grammar school US history lessons, where a big issue in our American Revolution was “Taxation without Representation”?)

    These taxes are voted on a local basis, and are intended to apply to those who do not live there. Well, maybe an exception for some residents who choose the local establishments for temporary encounters? Could TOT be called a “SIN TAX” in that context?

    I digress. I think all TOT’s should be abolished, since they are taxation without representation. Any opportunity to defeat them should be used.