SANTA BARBARA — The City of Santa Barbara made nearly $13.7 million from hotels and motels though the Transient Occupancy Tax during the past fiscal year. From July 2011 through June of this year, the city saw even more visitors staying in local hotels making the revenue the most the city has ever collected for that tax. Santa Barbara’s Treasury Manager Jill Taura said after a big hit from the recession, both business and pleasure travelers are returning to the city. “We’re here for a wine festival. We have a winery in Lodi and we’re pouring (wine) and so that’s why we come,” said Lori Felten, Lodi resident. “We came to celebrate our honeymoon and be in a relaxing place,” said Ashley Carolina of Anaheim. Every time someone stays in a Santa Barbara hotel, they pay a 12 percent Transient Occupancy or bed tax. Two percent is set aside for creeks and clean water. The remaining 10 percent is unrestricted revenue and goes into the city’s general fund. “It supports things like public safety, our police and fire services, libraries, parks and recreation programs,” explained Taura. After the final fiscal year numbers were calculated, the bed tax numbers showed a 9.6 percent increase from last year and an extra $637,000 more than the city estimated to get. “So this can be used to offset potential shortfalls in other general fund revenues,” said Taura. In June alone, the city collected $1.4 million from hotels and motels, which was an 11 percent growth from last June. Even though the 12 percent tax means money out of the pockets of the visitors, they don’t seem to mind. “Helps maintain the city and you know, keep it looking great, so I think it’s worth it,” said Steve Felten, Lodi resident. “It’s a good thing. It helps with the economy,” said Caroline. The city is also expecting an increase in sales tax revenue for the past fiscal year. Those final numbers should be out in mid-September.
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