July 24, 2017

The case for partnering with the Citizens for a Better Calaveras

Posted : December 3, 2012

The case for partnering with the Citizens for a Better Calaveras to increase the TOT rate in Calaveras County

-Submitted by Steve Markle, Calaveras Visitors Bureau Board President

After more than a year of soliciting input from our members, listening, debating and thoughtful consideration of the options for securing much-needed funding for the promotion of tourism in Calaveras County, the Calaveras Visitors Bureau (CVB) Board of Directors stands behind our decision to partner with a coalition of community groups, known as Citizens for a Better Calaveras (CBC) in an effort to raise the County Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from 6% to 10% and lock in the funding for all partners in the coalition. These vital local organizations all do a great deal to benefit the quality of life and business in Calaveras County. And, as a coalition, they’re well positioned to garner the required support for a two-thirds majority vote on a 4% TOT increase.

Arguably, several of these groups, including the Fair, Arts Council and Parks & Rec. also constitute significant tourism assets for our region. But here’s why the CVB board believes this is the best path to increased prosperity for tourism, hospitality and related businesses in Calaveras County:

  • If the initiative passes with a two-thirds majority vote, it would guarantee 40% of county TOT dollars collected would go to the CVB while increasing funding for the promotion of tourism by more than $100,000. This will result in greater economic benefit to the county and to our lodging/tourism partners. (Currently CVB funding from the county is vulnerable and can be decreased or eliminated at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors.)
  • With additional marketing dollars the CVB will be able to launch or attract several new large-scale special events to entice visitors to the area and keep people coming back. The CVB will also be able to work to create and actively promote lodging packages and co-op marketing opportunities to give visitors incentives to stay and play longer in Calaveras County.
  • It’s not all on the backs of lodging. In addition to what the CVB spends on the promotion of tourism, CVB members that represent “attractions” in the area (e.g. Cave and Mine Adventures, Greenhorn Creek Resort & Golf Club, Ironstone Vineyards, Bear Valley Mountain Resort, etc.) spend well over $1 million annually to attract visitors to Calaveras County. Many of these tourists spend the night in the County and pay TOT. Without the significant investment in tourism promotion made by other CVB members, far fewer visitors would travel to the area and stay the night in Calaveras County.
  • TOT is a reinvestment in the promotion of tourism, which helps get the word out about all the incredible opportunities our county has to offer. By promoting county-wide events and activities such as snow sports, watersports, caving & zip lining, hiking, cycling, golfing, hunting, winetasting and more, we attract over a million visitors to Calaveras County annually who positively impact our local economy by staying at our hotels, eating in our restaurants and shopping in our historic downtowns.
  • In 2010, tourism generated $150 million in economic activity in Calaveras County. Additionally, tourism in Calaveras County supports approximately 2,400 jobs and contributes nearly $6 million in state and local taxes annually.
  • According to a report by Dean Runyan Associates, a 1% increase in tourism = 21 jobs in Calaveras County and an additional $1.5 million in travel spending
  • By partnering with the CBC, this initiative supports the Calaveras County Fairwith much-needed funding that will help the Fair continue to drive tourism to the county, enhance local presence and participation at the Fair and provide educational opportunities for Calaveras youth through Future Farmers of America, 4-H, Grange, fine arts and industrial education programs.
  • It creates essential funding for the Calaveras County Parks and Recreation Commission, which will make the district eligible to secure revenue and manage parkland dedications under the Quimby Act. This new funding will help support local providers of public recreation with a safety net that guarantees the operation and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities. It will assure adequate recreational facilities and programs throughout Calaveras County and enable the district to publish a county-wide guide to recreational resources that includes trails for pedestrians, equestrians, bicyclists and off-road vehicles.
  • If passed, the initiative would support the Calaveras County Arts Council allowing the organization to continue delivering arts and entertainment at the current or increased levels throughout the entire County.
  • Additionally, if the CVB doesn’t actively support this initiative, it’s possible that the TOT increase could still succeed without us and the CVB would lose 100% of our current funding from the county. Or, if the effort is unsuccessful, we’re back to where we are today, with no guarantees of future funding. The majority of our new Board of Supervisors supports the CBC and the proposed TOT increase, but if we back out now, there is no guarantee that they will support the CVB with a portion of the TOT in the future. For this reason¬-and for all of the reasons listed above- the CVB Board feels that we have a fiscal responsibility to our membership to maintain our partnership with the CBC and do everything we can to secure continued funding for the CVB.

Additional Background:

Currently, overnight visitors to Calaveras County pay 6% TOT, which is among the lowest in the state. Local residents DO NOT pay TOT unless they stay in a hotel or lodging property. Under the current arrangement, the CVB must petition the county every year to secure a portion of the TOT collected (currently 33%). The CVB also receives a portion of the TOT collected by the City of Angels Camp, which-combined with $40,000 in membership dues-gives the CVB an annual operating budget of approximately $300,000. The CVB budget for promoting tourism is significantly smaller than neighboring regions (e.g. Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau has an annual operating budget of more than $700,000), which puts the CVB at a competitive disadvantage when seeking to attract visitors.

The Citizens for a Better Calaveras coalition also includes: Calaveras County Senior Centers, Friends of the Library and the Calaveras Humane Society.

 

If you’re a member that would like to sound off on this conversation, leave a comment below or email Lisa Boulton directly at lisab@gocalaveras.com

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Comments

  1. You expend a lot of words justifying your support of the tot increase, most of it in the form of high praise for the virtues of those that hope to receive related entitlement. You mention your fiscal responsibility to your members. What is glaring in it’s ommision is any mention of the oppositing members, the only ones directly impacted by the tax increase. It’s one thing to say you won’t oppose the initiative because you fear you might lose your funding. That I can appreciate. It’s quite another to simply ignore your responsibility to those members, members who happen to represent at least 30% of your funding. Worse yet, throw them under the bus by implying they were part of the process from it’s inception and supported it. Shame on you.