Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Staying in Del Norte County recreational vehicle parks and renting vacation houses or cabins will soon get more expensive at least for the owners who operate them.

For years, whats commonly called the hotel bed tax has not been collected from any business but hotels in Del Norte.

In the past, concerns have been expressed about the fairness of allowing some transient rentals to avoid payment, while motel owners are consistently required to collect such charges, said county counsel Bob Black in a memo to the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors.

Black will recommend the county start enforcing its transient occupancy tax ordinance at todays Board of Supervisors meeting, which begins at 10 a.m.

It could amount to a tremendous number of dollars for the county, agreed Del Norte County tax collector Sarah Sampels.

When asked why the tax had not been collected from recreational vehicle parks and places like White Rock Cabin Resorts, Sampels gave two different reasons.

Currently, the transient occupancy tax ordinance is not written to collect them from recreational vehicle parks, but White Rock should be charged its been an ongoing legal problem, she said.

While Black said recreational vehicle space rentals could not be charged a bed tax, places that actually rent out sleeper vehicles or other dwellings could charge it under the current ordinance.

As for White Rock, a Smith River area resort on the beachfront, owner Alan Murray has been embroiled in a legal battle with the county for more than a year.

He was accused by the county of placing permanent dwellings in the resort, when only mobile dwellings were permitted.

Though Murray says his cabins are tagged by the Department of Motor Vehicles, the county said there are no wheels or axles on them.

His 23-or-so vacation cabins go for about $100 per night. If only half of them were rented each night of the year, the 8 percent tax could bring about $35,000 into the county treasury.

Jaded by the long legal battle with the county, Murray said he may refuse to collect the tax. He declined to comment further because of the lawsuit.

Places like the Ramblin Rose RV Park will not be asked to collect the 8 percent, because it rents space only to those with their own vehicles.

But owner Vic Stratman said several parks do rent out mobiles for people to stay in.

KOA Kampground, which does have cabins, will have to start collecting and paying the county.

Crescent City government also has a bed-tax ordinance for hotels, recreational vehicle parks and vacation home rentals, but it charges 10 percent instead of 8 percent.

Sampels said she will enforce the ordinance and ask all who are eligible to collect the tax from customers to do so.

She said she would also like the county supervisors to implement a business license fee or tax as well especially in light of the countys budget deficit crisis.

Crescent City charges businesses for a license yearly, the amount depends on the size of the business. The county does not charge such a fee.