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Del Mar council authorizes lodging tax increase, endorses two-year spending plan

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Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

Visitors using hotels in Del Mar will see a 13-percent Transient Occupancy Tax tacked onto their bills beginning Oct. 1, as a result of Del Mar City Council action Monday, June 17.

Council members voted 5-0 to increase the tax on visitor lodgings by a 1/2 percent from 12 1/2 percent. The hike should bring another $120,000 per year into the city’s general fund, the pot of money used for daily operations.

Cities throughout the state typically levy the lodgings tax at from 10 percent to 15 percent of the room rates.

Del Mar’s voters years ago authorized the city to institute the charge at a maximum rate of 13 percent, but city leaders never increased it to the maximum until now. The tax was set at 11.5 percent in 2009, and subsequently boosted to 12.5 percent.

Councilman Dwight Worden called the increase “prudent.”

“This is the right thing to do,” Councilwoman Terry Gaasterland said of the tax boost.

The council’s decision came after approving the city’s budget for the coming two years starting July 1.

The city is expected to operate on about $13 million in general fund revenue in 2019-20 and $13.5 million in 2020-21. The total proposed budget, including funding for public works, is $29.9 million for the coming year and $35.1 million in the following year.

City Financial Manager Monica Molina said the budget meets the city’s goals of being in the black and having adequate reserves.

The city finance committee was satisfied with the breakdown, Chairman Tom McGreal said.

“We think we have a very good budget that accomplishes a number of important objectives,” he said.