TOT Compliance Committee members were “blindsided” by attempt to pass June 1 agreement
Members of Mammoth’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Compliance Committee spoke with The Sheet this week about a June 1 Town Council Meeting in which Council refused to consider a TOT collection agreement with the online rental company Airbnb prepared by Town Manager Dan Holler.
Several property managers discussed their concern with the way the agenda item, which was scheduled for the end of the meeting on June 1 but was moved up on the agenda due to community turnout, was placed on the agenda in a seemingly last-minute fashion.
Lisa Isaacs wrote an e-comment for the June 1 meeting in which she said “Mr. Holler notes Mr. [Andy] Morris [Town Attorney] has been working on [the agreement] for several months, but it appears this is the first time the citizenry and business community has been made aware. Still, Mr. Holler proposes Council pass it now.”
Holler told Council that he and Morris had been working with Airbnb “quite extensively” to come to a reasonable agreement, and the reason for the agenda item to appear at the Council meeting was expediency.
Airbnb, which typically has been loathe to collect TOT in other resort communities, agreed to assume the duties of a TOT “Operator” with respect to booking transactions between hosts and guests in its “Platform” (its website) in the proposed contract with the Town of Mammoth Lakes as prepared by Holler. The agreement was brought before Council on June 1, Morris said, because in order for Airbnb to begin collecting TOT on July 1, the item would have to be approved by June 7.
In the agreement, Airbnb refused to collect TBID, the Tourism Business Improvement District fee, as it has in most other communities.
“It was almost a slap in the face to us to see this contract where [Mammoth Lakes Tourism], which is the governing body of the TBID, was not consulted,” said John Morris, Chairman of MLT and the Director of Operations for Snowcreek Resort, at the meeting.
Teri Stehlik, owner and manager of Seasons 4 condominiums and member of the TOT Compliance Committee, told The Sheet this week that she was surprised when the item appeared on the agenda the Friday before the meeting.
“Nothing was ever said other than ‘It’s still just a conversation between the Attorney and Airbnb.’ It came as a big surprise when the agenda was posted,” said Stehllik. “It wasn’t something that we knew about.”