By Ted AYALA
A ballot measure proposing a tax on visitors to the city will be going forward before Glendale voters in next year’s election.
Council voted unanimously in a 4–0 vote (Councilmember Laura Friedman was absent) in favor of including the measure, which would hike the current transient occupancy tax (TOT) from 10% to 12%, on the ballot in next April’s election.
The proposed TOT hike is a remnant of a spate of revenue generating measures the city mulled over this past year for possible inclusion in last summer’s election. Those measures were ultimately abandoned in the wake of polls suggesting their defeat at the ballot box.
But in November the TOT increase measure was revived as a revenue stream likened by Councilmember Dave Weaver as “free money” since it would only affect tourists, not residents.
The TOT is a tax added onto the final bill of tourists’ stay at Glendale hotels and motels.
If approved by voters, the TOT hike would bring in an estimated additional $800,000 a year into the city’s coffers. It would also bring Glendale’s TOT closer in line with that of neighboring Pasadena which has a 12.11% TOT. Burbank’s current TOT is 10%, while Los Angeles’ is 14%.
“What [this] means,” said Councilmember Ara J. Najarian of the measure, “is when a news crew can’t find any room in Pasadena, then comes to Glendale and books a $200 room, when they checkout instead of having a $220 bill, they’ll have a $224 one.”
“That’s not a tax on residents, that’s not a tax on businesses,” he added.
A proposed increase in the city’s parking tax, which had also been mooted last month, was dropped by council, with Councilmember Paula Devine saying that such an increase would affect residents and that now wasn’t the time to “ask for a tax” from them.
City Manager Scott Ochoa dissuaded council from moving forward with both measures adding that pushing the parking tax along with the TOT would cause the “latter to suffer by association.”
Devine supported the TOT, saying that it would be “a creative revenue source […] for the arts.”
Mayor Zareh Sinanyan, who also voted in favor of the measure, said that not reaping the benefits from Glendale being a destination for tourists would be a “mistake.”