Gold Beach City Councilors Doug Brand and Becky Campbell have asked the city of Brookings to consider increasing its transient occupancy tax (TOT) to help pay for the operation and maintenance of the Event Center at the Beach in Gold Beach.
The event center is owned by Curry County, but it provides no funding for the facility, and revenue generated through events there isn’t enough to cover operations and maintenance. Furthermore, the facilities are “in decline,” Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman said in a report to the council, which will discuss this at a workshop Monday.
TOTs are assessed to those who stay overnight in hotels, lodges, inns, RVs and vacation homes.
Brookings has a 7.8 percent TOT — with 1.8 percent of that going to the state — that generates about $153,000 a year.
Last year, Gold Beach allocated 1 percent of its 6 percent TOT to the event center, and the city is proposing each of the other cities at 2 percent to their existing TOT rates — to 8 percent — and dedicate that revenue to the fairgrounds. They are also asking the county enact a 2 percent TOT in the unincorporated areas — a question that was posed to voters last year and rejected.
Payroll and insurance, which comprise the entire event center budget, total $125,000. The facility gets some money from the state, which is dedicated solely to the Curry County Fair. Most of the money generated by the nonprofit Curry Fair Friends pays for operations and maintenance. Over the years, it has garnered between $250,000 and $300,000 for the event center.
The Brookings Municipal Code requires that 25 percent of TOT revenue go toward promoting tourism, and the remaining 75 percent goes to the general fund. State law requires that a minimum of 70 percent of revenue from new or increased TOT fees go toward tourism promotion — bringing to question how the event center promotes tourism in Brookings.
An increase in the city rate would not require voter approval — but would at the county level. Gold Beach has a TOT of 6 percent, of which it dedicates 1 percent to the event center.
A 1 percent increase from each city and implementation of the same from the county would “be helpful, allowing for putting out fires but not addressing on-going preventive maintenance and repairs,” a report submitted by Brand and Campbell reads. “Two percent would allow for ongoing repairs and maintenance, as well as needed improvements and upgrades to the facility to remain viable as an event destination.”
If Brookings were to increase its TOT rate, it would also be required to credit the businesses that collect it with 5 percent of the revenue generated to reimburse them for the work of collecting it. That amount is calculated to be about $10,200. The net increase in tax revenues from the proposed increase would generate about $40,800.
A second plan the fair board has proposed would involve creating a special district for the event center. If voters approved a 10-cent per $1,000 property valuation, it would cost the owner of a home valued at $200,000 an additional $20 a year, and would bring in about $290,000 for maintenance and improvements much needed at the fairgrounds.
Any proposal requiring a vote of the citizenry would also be permanent, with no “sunset clause” in place.
The fair is held one week in the summer, and the rest of the year is booked with festivals, bazaars, dinners, plays, community dinners, concerts, special events and emergency operations.