By Ted AYALA
Attempts to put forward tax increases before the public are gaining steam yet again. Glendale City Council on Tuesday night directed staff to draft out options for ballot initiatives in favor of tax increases.
The latest attempt follows a stillborn effort to place similar measures on the ballot in June’s election. Those efforts crumbled after a survey conducted by the Rose Institute of State and Local Government determined that the likelihood of any such possible measures passing a two-thirds threshold would be unlikely.
City Manager Scott Ochoa presented increases in the city’s transient occupancy tax (TOT) and parking tax as possibilities that would stand a chance in the voting booth.
With a total of 25 hotels and motels within its city limits, and another two hotels in the process of being constructed, Glendale could find an influx of much needed income by way of an increased TOT.
Councilmember Dave Weaver said that an increase in the TOT would, with proper public outreach, find favor with voters as it would mostly affect people visiting the city. Neighboring cities, he explained, also have higher TOTs than Glendale.
“Anybody who stays in a Glendale hotel pays a 10% tax,” he said. “Our TOT is among the lowest in the region. Why would [voters] turn down free money? There’s no logical sense for it.”
Similar arguments were made in favor of increasing the parking rate.
Currently, Glendale’s parking tax rate runs at 9%, while Los Angeles’ stands at 10% and Burbank’s at 12%.
“Other cities make a good deal of money from parking,” Ochoa said to the council.
Supporters of such a move split on whether to implement the increase citywide or only within a restricted area.
Harry Hull, chair of Glendale Arts, spoke briefly to the dais in favor of putting forward these ballot initiatives, though he was quick to note that he only supported a limited implementation of a parking tax increase.
“Dissolution of state redevelopment put burdens on us,” he said. “We encourage you to look at new ideas. … Glendale Arts could support new ways of revenue. It would continue to support quality of life projects. Events at the Alex have local businesses seeing a big impact.”
City staff would have the next three weeks to draft out the ballot measures. They would be put forward to the council for approval on Dec. 16. If approved, they would appear on the ballot for the April 2015 election.
According to city staff, the costs of putting forward a measure to the public runs approximately $25,000 as per the countywide election of this year. The estimated cost during a municipal election were not available.