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City motel tax going before Lathrop voters

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POSTED July 12, 2014 1:34 a.m.

LATHROP – Last year Lathrop collected $350,000 in hotel taxes. 

And they want to make sure that they can continue to collect that money for years to come. 

For more than two decades the city has enjoyed a 9 percent return on top of the cost of any hotel room rented within the city limits thanks to the approval of a transient occupancy tax – often referred to as a TOT tax – by the then city council. 

They’ll put the issue before voters in November for ratification in an attempt to prevent any legal challenges to the TOT tax that could end up costing the city the ability to collect that money – which is used for essential city services like public safety, senior and youth programs. 

The city will not make an attempt to increase the percentage of the tax, and it will not be levied against other businesses or property owners in the community. The ratification is a legal means by which the money collected can be shielded – a step to uphold the decision made by the council in 1992. It also prevents the State of California from being able to take any of the money in the event of a massive budget shortfall the same way they did several years ago. 

Much the same way the city did with Measure C – the one-percent sales tax increase overwhelmingly supported by voters during the last election cycle – they’re opting for a general tax which only requires the standard 50 percent “plus one” margin for approval. As such, designating where the funds will be used once collected is not permitted – doing so would require a two-thirds majority. 

The city will have an option on whether it wants to place a statement in favor of in opposition to the proposed measure in the election guide that will be distributed to registered voters in San Joaquin County. The council will make the decision on whether it wants to authorize the mayor other designee the ability to write the brief. 

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