The Facts About Measure B
What is Measure B?
Measure B was put on the March 2, 2021 Special Election ballot by a vote of Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. It's a measure to increase the Transient Occupancy Tax on all overnight stays by an additional 4%. Quoting the County Counsel from the Voter Guide:
"The proposed tax would apply to visitors at hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, and other lodgings, as defined in Measure B, for the privilege of occupying a room or rooms in the West County Transient Occupancy Tax Area. Measure B defines the West County Transient Occupancy Tax Area as the unincorporated area of west Sonoma County encompassed within the combined area of the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District and the West Sonoma County Unified High School District."
The Facts About Measure B and Why Its Bad for Workers, Kids, and Businesses
We agree with the proponents of Measure B for the need to permanently fund our emergency services and schools, but increasing taxes on the hospitality industry is the wrong way to do this.
Many of these businesses are struggling to survive, have furloughed their workers, and are at risk of closing forever.
Bad Timing: Workers and Businesses are Suffering - We believe the timing of this new tax could not be worse. Area Lodgings, Restaurants, Wineries and Breweries are suffering from recent natural disasters and COVID-19 related issues. Recovery will be longer and slower with this added tax and more businesses will fail.
Myth: No Impact on Hospitality - We believe there will be a significant impact on hospitality business recovery adding this tax. Recent experiences in West Marin indicate an increase in occupancy taxes will impact recovery of the hospitality sector.
Highest TOT Tax Rate in the State Will Nullify Impact - The measure is being presented as a creative solution to a funding issue; we believe the reality is that increasing taxes to visitors to generate funding is not new and has limits. This increase would make the TOT tax in this region among the highest in the state. Dissuading potential visitors will negatively impact other tax collections and nullify the impact of increase.
Lack of Transparency - The lack of transparency and data are an issue: From our perspective, this measure was hastily put together, poorly researched and did not include working with the businesses that will be required to charge, collect, and distribute these funds to the county. We feel the projections are also misleading because they are based on pre-pandemic years and recovery estimates are unrealistic.
Problem of Declining School Enrollment is not Addressed - We believe this tax is being used to manage a problem instead of addressing it. More time is needed to work together, creatively solve problems, and avoid creating new ones.
Other Funding Vehicles Are Available - There are existing vehicles for state and local school funding and this measure overrides them. This tax would potentially set a precedent that burdens local business while not finding real solutions for the school district’s challenges.