Former council members happy - for now
On Nov. 4, Del Mar voters will decide whether to approve Measure H, giving the City Council authority to raise the transient occupancy tax, or TOT, from 10.5 percent up to 13 percent. This tax is paid by hotel visitors and has historically been used by our city for community needs. However, at the same time it placed measure H on the ballot, our council members also introduced a municipal code amendment formalizing their intent to consider foregoing a portion of a potential $300,000 in annual TOT revenue if hoteliers decided to form their own private marketing agency.
We authored an argument against measure H because we believe that, while the city should increase the TOT up to 13 percent, all of the money should go into our general fund. We were concerned about the intent of the companion amendment signaling to the hoteliers a willingness to potentially limit the TOT the city would collect, and we objected. On Sept. 22, based on our objection to the unwarranted concession to the hoteliers, limiting the funds available for general city needs, the City Council rescinded the code amendment.
We wish to acknowledge the council's recent action rescinding the amendment. We hope the community will vote for measure H and at the same time, will appreciate the concerns we raised in our argument. While the immediate concerns raised in our ballot argument have been averted, it is important for the community to be aware that the issues raised in our objection will most assuredly resurface. Therefore, our argument still serves a cautionary purpose. While council members reversed their action, they nevertheless reiterated continued interest in financial support for marketing for and by the hotels. They handed off to the next council the opportunity to re-write a TOT ordinance if measure H passes. We encourage the community to weigh in on how the TOT ordinance is ultimately written and how any TOT increase is spent. It is our wish, as residents and former Mayors and Council Members, that the Council will utilize the entire, maximum TOT revenue for city purposes.
Still get out and vote
Voting here in Del Mar is a family tradition and it will be again this November. Even though the outcome of the Del Mar City Council race has already been decided, there is an important reason to cast your vote in our local election. Here's why: The candidate who receives the largest number of votes gets to be the mayor after Deputy Mayor Crystal Crawford and Councilman Richard Earnest, who will follow in that order. In his third year, the candidate with the highest number of votes will become mayor.
To be mayor is a high honor. Therefore, by casting our vote, we will help to determine who that candidate will be. It does lend some interest to our hometown race! Let's wish them all good luck, and be sure to go out and vote on Election Day.