By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hotel tax oversight panel needs applicants
Applications due this Friday
The city is forming a Citizens Advisory Committee to help the city determine where to spend tax money paid by those who check into Ceres motels, such as the Microtel Inn pictured here. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

The city has received the interest of only one person in the newly formed Transient & Occupancy Tax Citizens' Advisory Committee and is looking for more.

"We're looking for folks to apply for that committee by this Friday," said Ceres City Manager Toby Wells.
Applications may be filled out and submitted online on the city's website, according to Wells.
The oversight panel wil provide input on where funds from the Transient & Occupancy Tax should be spent.

The committee will consist of seven members, including councilmembers Linda Ryno and Bret Durossette, three Ceres residents and city manager and Finance Department director who will serve as non-voting members. Wells suggested that at least one participant be from the business community.

Applications are being sought with the deadline of Dec. 15. Appointments will come Jan. 8 with meetings occurring each monthly, likely the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.

Ceres has had a tax on the renting of hotel rooms since 1964. Talk about an ad hoc committee surfaced after Ceres voters approved the doubling of the tax from five to 10 percent in November 2015. The measure was written to not require an oversight panel but earlier this year Mayor Chris Vierra suggested a citizen panel could make recommendations on where an estimated $100,000 per year from the hotel tax should be spent. Wells said the ballot measure was crafted with no promises where the money would be allocated. Had the city designated a specific area to use the money, the city would have needed a two-thirds majority for passage. However, Vierra asserted that many citizens who voted to increase the Transient and Occupancy Tax (TOT) felt that the revenue would help promote Ceres to outsiders rather than be spent on public safety.

Measure E received the support of 927 votes, or 56.63 percent. A large number of voters - 710 - were against the tax even though most Ceres residents will not be paying the TOT. The measure needed a simple majority for passage.