Mayoral Candidate Shirley Nakawatase

Imperial Beach City Council Candidate Question #4:

“Imperial Beach has long had to operate on a very fine financial margin. What do you see as possible to increase revenues for the City of Imperial Beach? Is the proposed sales tax increase that will be on the ballot enough?”

To clarify, there is no sales tax increase on the ballot but there is Proposition R which is a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).

Local residents do not pay the tax.

The tax is paid by visitors who stay at local hotels or vacation rentals. Currently, a 10% tax is charged to nightly and short-term rentals of less than 30 days.

This proposition will raise the tax to 14% charged on nightly and short-term rentals, starting in November.

Businesses that charge TOT and who are in support of the increase to 14% are Pier South (78 rooms), and Hampton Inn (100 rooms). Others who collect TOT tax in Imperial Beach are Sandcastle Inn (18 rooms), and 101 vacation rentals.

The Imperial Beach City Council voted unanimously on August 3, 2022, to send the issue of the TOT for the voters to decide. The city received $1.3 million TOT revenue in 2022. If voters choose to increase the TOT by 4%, the city will receive an additional $520,000 in revenue that would help increase public safety, beach cleanliness, and support the expansion of the park ranger program.

I have been campaigning on exploring ways to use TOT taxes to generate more revenue to improve public services without hurting our citizens. So I support raising the TOT to 14%. One of the biggest factors is that the local businesses that are responsible for charging this tax are in favor of the raise. We have a win-win for both residents and businesses on this issue.

According to an August 12 story in the Eagle & Times newspaper, “The city has conducted outreach with the community and concerns listed by residents included retaining local businesses and jobs, keeping neighborhoods, beaches, parks and public spaces safe and clean.”

Here is a seamless way for our town to get more of the revenue we deserve without gouging our own citizens.

As your hometown Certified Public Accountant, I understand money and finances. I have been the chair of a $500+ million non-profit for four years. I have also been an acting CFO for multi-million dollar companies. I have a multitude of ideas to look at how to increase our money stream which all filters down to more resources for us. Isn’t it time we take a hard look at our finances and do what is right for us?

Vol. 38, No. 43 - Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022

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