Big snow year boosts North Tahoe lodging tax revenue by 18 percent

Published on August 30, 2016

Last winter’s El Niño brought snow back to the Sierra and visitors back to North Lake Tahoe’s slopes, leading to an 18 percent increase last year in lodging tax revenues in Placer County.

Transient occupancy tax, or TOT, is collected from lodging guests by hospitality operators on behalf of the county. Nearly 4,000 lodging operators in Placer County are registered to collect TOT. Overall, TOT collections in the Tahoe area increased by more than $3 million in the county’s previous fiscal year, from July 2015 through June 2016, including more than $900,000 in unpaid back TOT collected. Collections were especially high during the winter ski season, but up the rest of the year, too.

“A good year for our recreation economy benefits the entire North Lake Tahoe community,” said Jennifer Merchant, Placer County’s deputy county executive officer for Lake Tahoe. “With a boost in TOT, we’re able to invest in more things that improve quality of life for our residents and help make sure our visitors can’t wait to return.”

Placer County is one of the few local jurisdictions to allocate a large share of its TOT revenue to tourism development and investment in projects that both serve visitors and minimize their impacts. Since voters first approved a 2 percent TOT increase in 1996, Placer County has invested $32 million into more than 100 projects like bike trails, parks, sidewalks, upgrades to improve Lake Tahoe’s famed clarity, and other visitor-serving amenities, leveraging $235 million in private, federal, state and local matching money.

“It’s been an incredibly fun year at Northstar California with many guests enjoying our mountain and Village experience,” said Beth Howard, vice president and general manager of Northstar California Resort. “It’s exciting to see that the investment we make in both our guest experience and the community is helping to position Lake Tahoe as a year-round resort destination.”

TOT revenues are spent at the discretion of the Placer County Board of Supervisors. Placer now spends $2 million per year in TOT revenue to improve the TART bus system to better serve workers and visitors and keep cars off the road to improve air and water quality. The additional revenue collected this year will go right back into investment in new priority projects, such as completing missing links in the regional trail network along the north shore and between Truckee and lake shore communities of Tahoe City and Kings Beach.