Scotts Valley’s budget has improved recently, but city leaders have described its finances as stable but fragile. Are you open to raising the city’s hotel tax or any other local tax? What other ways could the city grow its revenue or develop its economy?
Allan Timms: The Measure Z funds have an expiration, so that sales tax revenue isn’t there forever. I’m not saying we can’t pass another such measure; I think it’s going to be necessary to pass another such measure to actually continue to be funded in that way.
The other issue is that what it gets from property taxes is very small compared to most cities. We get sub-7% of property tax revenues going into the city’s budget, versus other nearby cities (16% in Santa Cruz) just because of how the city’s budget and incorporation happened back in the early days. Then, the (hotel) occupancy taxes are currently at 11%. Twelve percent is pretty much the standard. Santa Cruz is already looking at expanding that to think the state overall is looking up. I think it’s almost certainly a necessity for Scotts Valley, actually, to have that as well.
I think I’d be open to exploring all of those things. If there’s a way to change how much of the property taxes we get, that would clearly help. I think that the sales tax measure is likely to need to continue. I think the (hotel) occupancy tax is probably inevitable. The hotels we are in consultation with appear to support that.
There’s other things we can explore, such as short-term vacation rentals and occupancy revenue. Larger and commercial developments will help boost the city economy too. They also bring a willingness to explore better restaurants, better stores and more local-business foot traffic.
All of that stuff brings in more revenue, benefits the visitors, benefits the community, and means that we don’t necessarily have to look at raising the tax. If we can get that critical mass, that probably means we don’t have to increase the sales tax. I think we’re not short on options.