It’s true, our TOT percentage rate has not changed since 1996, but our population has only grown 9.8%. Even though inflation has increased costs by 57%, the County’s TOT revenue dollars has grown by 192%, from $5.1 million to $14.9 million. But we are still nearly in the same infrastructure deficit we were in when the TOT rate was increased from 7% to 10 % in 1996.
Comparative rates presented by the CAO proposal to the BOS, and in the Power Point presentation, list jurisdictions, that are not our competition, with higher TOT rates but also far more infrastructure to offer travelers than Mariposa County. Our neighboring counties, Tuolumne and Madera are actually the ones competing with Mariposa County: Tuolumne County is at 10% TOT; Madera County at 9% TOT. Mariposa County is 10% TOT. The proposed 2 % increase would cause Mariposa’s TOT to be at 12%, higher than our competition. Travelers shop total lodging price, which includes the TOT.
The right way to raise TOT revenue is to support the tourism industry’s efforts to make Mariposa a destination and expand into what is now the off and shoulder seasons to grow TOT dollars with additional visitations, so that the local private sector (businesses and employees alike) also benefit.
However, depending on Yosemite tourism alone is not enough to provide a stable economy. There is more the County can and should do to implement its own Economic Vitality Strategy to grow and diversify the economy.
Increasing the TOT rate by 2 percentage points will not solve Mariposa County’s spending problems, only perpetuate them. And it will make our county less competitive for tourism dollars. Vote No on Measure M.Gary Francisco