Tourism is an industry, arguably one of the few industries that Humboldt County has. So is it really a good idea to raise the tax rate for people visiting the area and staying in hotels and campgrounds?
Recently we had a cruise ship visit. Many of us in Old Town Eureka were wondering where they were! I can't prove it, but I would imagine Tourists probably scared away from the Old Town shops because of all the homeless we have roaming our streets. This might come as a surprise, but nobody books a cruise to travel the world so that they can look at tents on the sidewalks and all the junk that goes with it.
Anyway, back to taxes. This November the voters will probably raise the(TOT) The Transient Occupancy Tax, even more, by an additional 2 percent, making the overall tax 12 percent on people staying in hotels or in private campgrounds and RV parks. While speaking to locals directly makes me think they value their hard earned money, the voting track record shows that Humboldt folks really like raising taxes. I am not going to tell you how to vote, but let's consider how this could go.
The argument "now that the Covid is over we should raise taxes" is short sighted because it doesn't consider the fact that inflation is eating up our potential tourism industry. According to one finance report, Gasoline is At the top of the list of goods that have nearly doubled in the last 12 months
I wish we could agree that a tax increase should only be made when times are good. Times are definitely not good right now, as inflation affects other areas that govern tourism, mainly hotels, airfare, rental cars, each of those categories inflated over 20%.
Now I am not arguing that we should raise any taxes, but according to one chart, the health care sectors and education tuition costs have only inflated by 2 to 3 percent. If we are desperate to raise revenues, maybe the county should raise taxes on those sectors.... Again i am not arguing for that either, but it seems silly to raise taxes on tourism, the one industry that is the most negatively affected by the things that have inflated the most this year.
While my reading of the TOT increase says the money will go to the general fund, I am noticing some local advocates are claiming the money raised will be earmarked for the arts.
Sorry I don't see the connection. If the tax money raised funded county roads and potholes, then maybe you would have yourself a decent argument, but why should tourists be paying for our art industry? I like the arts a lot--especially music--but i don't want to cut down the hospitality and tourism sections to prop up the arts. We have some great artists, I don't think they need to be artificially propped up by anyone.
Raising any taxes during our local inflation, our local depression of tourism, shows lack of understanding for the times we live in. While this tax will probably pass, I would just urge everybody to think about all the struggling businesses out there. and really think about if maybe this year, it might be a good idea to be a little less liberal and keep the tax rates where they are -- we will be just fine.