TBID “Tax” exemption
On Wednesday, July 24 the Mammoth City Council will hold a final vote on the proposed Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). As the TBID currently stands, it needs revision. Until this is done, it should not be approved by the City Council.
Under the TBID, TOT would increase 1%, most retail stores would pay 1.5%, and lift tickets at MMSA would increase 2%. Although this is being called a business assessment, in reality businesses will pass this on to consumers by charging the TBID assessment on their sales. In essence this is a “sales tax” increase without a vote of the Mammoth residents. As a result, Mammoth will have one of the highest “sales tax” rates in California. Because this will be implemented without the required 2/3rds voter approval for a sales tax increase, it is Taxation Without Representation.
There are pros and cons to the TBID, but there is one major flaw that is not adequately addressed. This sales tax will be charged not only to tourists and visitors but also to local residents. This will be a financial burden on Mammoth residents, especially many of whom earn in the area of minimum wage.
On June 6, 2012, then Assistant Town Manager, Marianna Marysheva-Martinez, published a summary of a Taxation Study which the City had contracted from FTI Capital Advisors. Her summary says this of the Taxation Study: “It concludes that the current level of taxation within the Town is already high, the Town’s population is generally not wealthy, and the Town’s economy is not likely to sustain additional tax burden.”
Her summary further states that among other conclusions: “Roughly 40 percent of the Town’s households are classified as low-income, earning less than 80 percent of area median income (AMI), including 53 percent of renters and 24 percent of owners.”
Based on the results of this study, I believe Mammoth residents should not be subjected to the TBID “sales tax.” It is one thing to implement this tax on tourists and visitors but quite another to impose it on Mammoth residents, many of whom cannot afford it. Before the TBID is approved, it SHOULD BE REVISED TO EXEMPT MAMMOTH RESIDENTS from paying the tax. This exemption should be fairly straightforward to implement.
Wednesday, July 24 will be the final chance for public comment before the City Council votes on the TBID that night. If you are a resident opposed to paying this tax, I urge you to make your opinion known at this meeting.