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Humboldt County looks at uses for tourism tax revenue

Ellin Beltz, Public Domain

Humboldt County voters may approve an increase to the hotel tax this June. County supervisors are trying to figure out how to spend the additional funds.

Tourists visiting Humboldt County currently pay a 10 percent tax to stay in hotels. That tax has brought in over two and half million dollars for the county annually.

County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to create a new working group to look at possible uses of funds resulting from a proposed 2 percent increase to that tax.

The measure has the support of the arts community, which is vying for a slice of nearly a million dollars annually that could come from the increase.

Monica Topping is the director of the Ink People Center for the Arts in Eureka.

“As you know, driving through anywhere in Humboldt County, but particularly Eureka, we see art everywhere we drive through town," Topping says. "And that is huge; and it brings people back to our area.”

While the increase has the support of the arts community, the members of the Humboldt Lodging Association are frustrated their voices weren’t a part of the conversation.

Chris Ambrosini with the Humboldt Lodging Association says raising taxes could have been avoided altogether.

“We felt we weren’t included in the initial discussions of actually raising the tax; on the industry that it’s gonna be raised on," he says.

Supervisor Mike Wilson says that tax increase is going to be placed on visitors, not the hotels.

And County Supervisor Steve Madrone notes the measure in front of voters this June will add campgrounds and RV parks to the lodging tax, but short term rentals remain exempt – such as Airbnb.

He says short term rentals take housing away from residents, and should be taxed accordingly.

After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the west coast.