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San Mateo County, CA November 6, 2001 Election
Measure N
Continuation of Transit Occupancy Tax
City of Millbrae

Tax Ordinance - Majority Vote Required

2,637 / 76.8% Yes votes ...... 798 / 23.2% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

"Shall Ordinance No. 573 adopted by the Millbrae City Council on June 11, 1991 which increased from 8% to 10% the Transient Occupancy Tax charged to persons for the privilege of occupancy in any hotel or motel in the City of Millbrae be continued in full force and effect?"

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote of this measure means:
A majority "yes" vote allows the Transit Occupancy Tax (Hotel Tax) to continue at a rate of 10%.

A NO vote of this measure means:
A "no" vote means that the Hotel Tax would be reduced to 8%.

Impartial Analysis
The City Council of the City of Millbrae placed this measure on the ballot to authorize the continuation of the 2% increase in the transient occupancy tax rate from 8% to 10% that was enacted by the City Council in 1991. The transient occupancy tax, commonly known as the "Hotel Tax," is placed on the room rent charged to guests in hotels or hotels located in Millbrae. The tax is collected by the hotels as part of the room bills.

The City estimates that the Hotel Tax revenues from this 2% increment generate approximately $950,000 per year. These revenues go into the City's general fund for general governmental purposes to support police, fire, public works, parks and recreation, library, code enforcement, and capital improvements in the City.

The City Council submits this measure to the electorate to ensure that the current 10% tax rate is in compliance with state law, as recently interpreted by the California Supreme Court. Because the revenues from the Hotel Tax are placed in the City's general fund for general City government purposes, a majority vote of the City's voters voting in this election is required to approve the measure. If the measure does not pass, the Hotel Tax would be reduced to 8%.

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For information about the City of Millbrae

City of Millbrae Fact Sheet on Measure N
Suggest a link related to Measure N
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Arguments For Measure N Arguments Against Measure N
A yes vote on Measure N is a vote to maintain Millbrae's hotel tax at its current 10% level. Measure N will not increase the existing 10% hotel tax. It will simply provide voter confirmation to continue the hotel tax at the same level it has been since 1991.

In 1991, when the Council set the rate, it was understood that voter confirmation was not required. However, recent court rulings have led the City Council to believe it would be prudent to place the item before the voters for confirmation.

Approval of Measure N will keep tax revenues fairly distributed to all those who use our city services. Approval of Measure N will insure that the thousands of hotel visitors who travel our streets, frequent our restaurants and retail areas, enjoy our parks and open space, as well as rely daily on our police, fire and medical response services, pay their fair share. Approval of Measure N will prevent a loss to Millbrae of $950,000 in hotel tax revenue per year.

Failure to approve Measure N would cause severe budget problems and increase Millbrae's dependency on revenues collected from property tax payers to fund essential city services. Measure N will keep the hotel tax at the same level as twelve other San Mateo County cities and below the 14% rate currently charged in San Francisco.

The 1991 increase in the hotel tax from 8% to 10% has made it possible for Millbrae to hire more police officers and fire fighters, modernize our Police and Fire Stations, as well as improve Millbrae's parks and streets. It is important that we ensure our revenue structure continues to allow for necessary public safety, parks and recreation and maintenance services. Join with all Millbrae City Council members in supporting Measure N.

/s/ John Wilms
President, El Rancho Inn and Suites

/s/ Victor B. Graff
Member, Millbrae Planning Commission

/s/ Keith W. Larsen
Chair, Millbrae Parks & Rec. Commission

/s/ Robert H. Treseler
Millbrae City Treasurer

/s/ John Falsarella

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Unnecessary Revenue: Will the sky fall if voters don't approve this tax increase? Of course not! Millbrae got by just fine with an 8% TOT (before1991).

"San Francisco's TOT is 14%." That's like standing next to Luciano Pavarotti proclaiming "Look how thin I am!" In a study of high taxes on visitors, the World Travel & Tourism Council ranked San Francisco tenth highest of the 52 cities studied.

Comparisons: Portland's hotel tax is 6%. Oregon's average is 7.3%. Hawaii's is 7.25%. Washington's standard hotel tax is only 2% (though special taxes push the average to 5%). California's average TOT was also below 10% until 1992, when cities and counties began a decade of tax hikes.

Lawbreakers: The Supreme Court found 1986's Prop 62 to be constitutional in 1995 (Santa Clara County v. Guardino), affirming that such taxes, raised without voter approval, are indeed illegal. Millbrae nevertheless thumbed its nose at the voters and the Court and continued to collect the 2% overcharge. The city is bowing to the law only now because a new Supreme Court decision (HJTA v. La Habra) has clarified eligibility to sue for continuing to overcharge taxpayers. The illegality of the tax itself was established 6 years ago.

Don't reward these scofflaws with your approval. Vote 'NO'.

/s/ John J. Hickey
Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ Margret Buckley Schmidt
Treasurer, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ Christopher VA Schmidt
Retired Computer Professional

A Moral Question: Is it OK to steal from your neighbor's houseguests if you can get away with it?

The City of Millbrae thinks so - at least when guests stay in local hotels. Like an embezzler, the city pads hotel bills with a 10% transient occupancy tax ('TOT') which is no more just nor honest than a Mafia protection racket.

And taxing a hotel guest who can't vote against him is the perfect crime, from a politician's point-of-view.

A Legal Question: If the voters passed an initiative (Prop 62 in 1986) which required voter approval of such taxes, was it OK to ignore the law and raise the TOT without a vote?

The City of Millbrae thought so, and stalled for 10 years before putting this tax on the ballot.

Don't encourage this kind of opportunistic pickpocketing. Vote 'NO' and help put a politician on the straight and narrow path.

/s/ John J. Hickey
Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ Margret Buckley Schmidt
Treasurer, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ Linden Hsu
Secretary, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ Christopher VA Schmidt
Retired Computer Professional

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Measure N ensures that visitors using Millbrae hotels and motels continue to pay their fair share for the police, fire and street maintenance services they require. A yes vote on Measure N permits the City of Millbrae to continue to apply the full 10% Hotel Tax to visitors staying at Millbrae hotels and motels.

Continued collection of the full 10% hotel tax is critical to maintaining the services enjoyed by Millbrae residents, businesses and visitors. Failure of Measure N would cost the Millbrae General Fund Budget nearly $1 million and require deep cuts in essential services.

It is illogical to suggest that we return to 1991 financing of City services. We are all aware of the fact that costs have risen greatly since 1991. Suggesting that it is more appropriate to compare Millbrae's hotel tax rate against cities in the northwest than against San Francisco is absurd. Millbrae's cost of doing business is certainly more comparable with San Francisco, a few miles to the north.

The Council adopted the 10% tax rate in 1991 in full compliance with the law. Because of a recent decision of the California Supreme Court, cities and counties throughout the State will be asking voters to approve similar precautionary measures.

Please join with us in voting yes on Measure N.

/s/ Eric Mertl
President Millbrae Police Officers Assoc.

/s/ Jennifer Gingrass
Millbrae Firefighters Local 2400 District 3

/s/ Denis Richardson
Mayor, Millbrae

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Created: December 3, 2001 02:34
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