A proposed citizens tax initiative that would benefit the Crescent City Harbor has the required number of signatures to be placed on the November ballot, Commissioner Brian Stone reported to his colleagues Tuesday.
However, the county auditor-controller has placed stipulations for the harbor receiving the revenue the proposed tax measure would generate, Stone said.
“If there are enough votes that it passes, then we will end up with a situation where we need to have developed a harbor facilities plan,” Stone said. “The monies are supposed to be spent in such away that one, the monies go directly towards the USDA loans, the $5.5 million. Any monies over and above that are then to be spent on facilities, maintenance and upkeep. You’ll notice it says by binding agreement with the auditor-controller.”
Representatives of the Save the Harbor 2018 initiative, which includes the Del Norte Fisherman’s Marketing Association, turned in 1,107 signatures and wound up with 863 valid signatures, according to County Clerk-Recorder Alissia Northrup.
Proponents of the initiative needed 704 valid signatures before bringing the initiative to the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors by June 28 for it to be ready for the November 2018 general election. The Board of Supervisors will likely address the issue at its first meeting in June, Northrup said Wednesday.
The initiative seeks to increase the transient occupancy tax (TOT) visitors staying at motels and hotels in the county pay from 8 percent to 10 percent. It also seeks to place a 2 percent transient occupancy tax on recreational vehicles renting space at parks within the county. The tax would only apply to those staying at parks in the county for less than 30 days.
Dollars generated by the proposed tax revenue would be used to pay down a $5.3 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan. The loan was used to rebuild the port following tsunamis in 2006 and 2011.
After voting on a resolution encouraging county supervisors authorize placing the initiative on the November ballot, Stone told his colleagues that after speaking with the port’s legal counsel, Bob Black, the harbor has to develop and adopt a facilities maintenance plan before receiving any revenue the proposed tax generates. This means harbor staff has to identify projects that have been on a deferred maintenance list for years as well as other things they know have to be repaired, Stone said.
“We know that the first chunk of money would be put towards the (loan) payment,” he said. “Anything left over can be spent on the facilities plan.”
The harbor’s loan payment to the USDA is about $260,000 per year, Stone said. He suggested the harbor board meet with County Auditor-Controller Clinton Schaad to get further information about the stipulations to receive the potential tax dollars.
“It says by binding agreement by the auditor,” Stone said. “We’re going to have to know what that agreement is to understand it, number one, and let’s see what the parameters are.”
Harbormaster Charlie Helms said the harbor could use the port’s depreciation schedule, which shows everything needing to be replaced for the next 30 years, to come up with a facilities plan. Helms said his staff could likely create a facilities plan by July.
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