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Smart Voter
Sonoma County, CA November 4, 2008 Election
Measure N
Transient Occupancy Tax
Town of Windsor

Majority Approval Required

Pass: 8,035 / 70.2% Yes votes ...... 3,407 / 29.8% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Dec 3 8:30am, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (22/22)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Shall the Town of Windsor Municipal Code be amended to increase the transient occupancy tax, commonly called the "hotel tax," which is charged only on persons who occupy hotel rooms in the Town for 30 days or less, from 8 percent to 12 percent in order to contribute funding towards basic Town services such as police, street repair, park maintenance, and community programs?

Impartial Analysis from Town Counsel
The Town of Windsor currently has in place an ordinance that requires any person who occupies a hotel within the Town limits for 30 consecutive days or less to pay to the operator of the hotel a transient occupancy tax in the amount of 8% of the rent charged. Each hotel operator then transfers to the Town the amount collected for such occupancies. Monies received by the Town in this regard are placed in the Town's General Fund and are used to help defray expenses and costs of services provided by the Town. This tax is levied only on persons who stay in hotels in the Town for 30 consecutive days or less.

Measure N proposes to amend the Town's current ordinance to increase the rate of the tax paid by said occupants of hotels from 8% to 12% of the rent charged by the hotel operator. A yes vote on Measure N would amend the current ordinance and allow this increase. A no vote would retain the current ordinance.

This amendment to the Town's Ordinance shall not become effective until approved by a majority of the voters voting on the issue at the November 4, 2008 election.

s/ Richard R. Rudnansky, Windsor Town Attorney

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Arguments For Measure N Arguments Against Measure N
Currently, Windsor's transient occupancy tax rate, commonly called the "hotel tax," is the lowest in Sonoma County. Raising the tax from 8% to 12% would bring Windsor's tax up to a rate comparable with its neighbors. This tax is levied only on tourists and other people who stay in hotels in the Town for less than 30 days. This is a painless way to help keep Windsor such a beautiful place to work, live and play.

Maintaining Town services such as public safety and emergency services, landscaping and improving our parks, keeping our roads safe, providing opportunities for the youth of our community to grow and learn in a safe environment, and providing open space has always been a top priority. One way to ensure those public services continue is to increase the transient occupancy tax. This hotel tax could generate an additional $300,000 or more every year. The revenue is protected, and safe from state agency funding grabs. Revenue raised here, stays here.

Local governments are going through tough economic times, and our public services are threatened by funding shortfalls. We have the lowest crime rate per capita in Sonoma County, and pay the lowest costs per capita. We have a wonderful Park and Recreation program, with a summer event program that brings the whole Town together. Our street surfaces have the highest rating in the County. The Town is doing a great job with limited sources of income, but we're starting to struggle. Additional revenue will help minimize any cutbacks to public services and help to balance our budget.

We ask you as a Town Council to support this measure that raises tax revenue from tourists and positively impacts our budget, enabling us to maintain our way of life in Windsor. Thank you for your consideration and support.


s/ Debora Fudge, Mayor
s/ Robin Goble, Vice Mayor
s/ Steve Allen, Councilmember
s/ Warin Parker, Councilmember
s/ Sam Salmon, Councilmember

Now here's a really brilliant idea let's charge tourists more for coming to your community. Let's put more tax burden on one of the few industries still doing well in Sonoma County lets raise the hotel tax on tourists. In the Town of Windsor's own language, "The (hotel) tax constitutes a debt owed by the transient to the Town." Really, a debt for what? Is it for the privilege of spending their money in the community. Folks that come to Windsor pay sales tax on their meals, their purchases and their hotel rooms. The hotel owner and local merchants already pay business and property taxes for the infrastructure tourist use. They pass these costs through to all customers in the prices of products and services. We believe strongly in the initiative process by which the citizens of California and it's cities and political units can vote whether to tax themselves. However, this measure allows Windsor to impose a fifty percent tax increase on someone else and that someone has no say at the ballot box. It is not fair the "outsider" is being asked to pay an additional tax without any logical reason, other than Windsor is short of money and somebody has to pay to keep those government salaries and benefits high. In the name of fairness it is time to say enough. Vote No on Measure N.

s/ Fred Levin, Executive Director

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
We urge you to consider the following when voting on Windsor's hotel tax.

Tourists pay their fair share of the local public services they use, such as police, streets, parks, and Town Green events when they pay the hotel tax. We don't think Windsor residents should subsidize tourists.

Windsor's hotel tax is the lowest in the county. Raising it to 12% keeps it in line with nearby cities. Tourism has not declined in those cities due to hotel tax increases.

Windsor does a good job of managing its resources. We have the lowest crime rate in the county yet we pay the least amount per capita on police services. However, we still had to cut over $1 million to balance the budget this year.

State government continues to raid cities' bank accounts to pay for State responsibilities. The hotel tax is a source of revenue that the State cannot steal. The money raised will stay in Windsor and benefit our community.

Increasing the hotel tax will generate revenue to help pay for the quality police services and parks that we, including tourists, all enjoy.

Help us preserve the quality of life and small town, family friendly character of Windsor. Don't be misled by half truths and cynicism.

Vote Yes on Measure N.

s/ Debora Fudge Mayor
s/ Steve Allen Councilmember
s/ Pat McDowell, President Windsor Fire Protection District Board
s/ Cindy Holman Parks and Recreation Commissioner

Full Text of Measure N

ORDINANCE NO. 2008-_____



SECTION 1. Section 2-3-200 Amended. Section 2-3-200 of the Town of Windsor Municipal Code is hereby amended to read as follows (with text in strikeout indicating deletion and double-underlined text indicating addition):

2-3-200 Imposition of Tax; Payment of Tax by Transient.

For the privilege of occupancy in any hotel, each transient is subject to and shall pay a tax in the amount of eight percent (8%) twelve percent (12%) of the rent charged by the operator. The tax constitutes a debt owed by the transient to the Town, which is extinguished only by payment to the operator or to the Town. The transient shall pay the tax to the operator of the hotel at the time the rent is paid. If the rent is paid in installments, a proportionate share of the tax shall be paid with each installment. The unpaid tax shall be due upon the transient's ceasing to occupy space in the hotel. If for any reason the tax due is not paid to the operator of the hotel, the Tax Administrator may require that such tax shall be paid directly to the Tax Administrator by the transient or the operator.

SECTION 2. Severability. If any provision of this ordinance or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the remainder of this ordinance, including the application of such part or provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby and shall continue in full force and effect. To this end, provisions of this ordinance are severable. The People of the Town of Windsor hereby declare that it would have passed each section, subsection, subdivision, paragraph, sentence, clause, or phrase hereof irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, subdivisions, paragraphs, sentences, clauses, or phrases be held unconstitutional, invalid, or unenforceable.

SECTION 3. Election Required for Tax to be Effective. The tax proposed by this ordinance shall not become effective until approved by a majority of the voters voting on the issue at the November 4, 2008 election.

SECTION 4. Effective Date of Tax. If this ordinance is approved by a majority of the voters voting on the issue at the November 4, 2008 election, pursuant to Elections Code Section 9217, this ordinance shall be considered adopted on and the tax shall become effective ten (10) days after the Town Council certifies the results of the election.

APPROVED by the following vote of the People of the Town of Windsor on November 4, 2008:

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