The Town of Mammoth Lakes issued the following press release:
The Town of Mammoth Lakes is working with local partners to implement a program to monitor and enforce transient occupancy tax (TOT) payments and rental activity within the town.
TOT Provides Vital Community Services
According to Mayor Jo Bacon, “Everyone who visits our town, including our property owners, expect the highest level of service that the Town can provide. When the Transient Occupancy Taxes are not collected, those owners/renters are negatively impacting our ability to fund and supply services. Without adequate revenues, programs like our successful transit system, important road maintenance efforts, and extensive public safety initiatives will suffer. By not complying with the TOT ordinance, those owners unfairly push the burden of providing services to the rest of the community.”
As the single largest revenue source for the Town, TOT revenue provides vital services to our community that enhance our quality of life and maintain our status as a great place to live and work, including:
• Free transportation (usage and need are growing)
• Snow removal (we would not be able to get around town without it)
• Road maintenance (surfacing, routing, and safety)
• Public safety (police funding)
• Parks and pools maintenance (facilities cannot be maintained and upgraded without TOT)
• Trails (TOT helps create and maintain walking, hiking and biking trails within the town of Mammoth Lakes)
• Mammoth Lakes marketing (TOT helps Mammoth Lakes to be competitive with other travel markets and allows us to visit or live in Mammoth Lakes and enjoy the amenities we’ve come to expect)
• People visit Mammoth Lakes or move here full or part time because of its vast recreational opportunities and its beauty. However to maintain and create the infrastructure that makes Mammoth Lakes a place we continue to enjoy, we must have an income source and the largest source of income to the Town of Mammoth Lakes is TOT
“Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) collection, compliance, and enforcement are critical components to the success of a resort town like Mammoth Lakes. TOT makes up about 60% of the Town’s annual budgeted revenue and pays for such vital community services as snow removal, road and parks maintenance, and marketing,” stated John Morris, Chairman of the Mammoth Lakes Lodging Association.
Unreported and illegal rental activity has cost the Town hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. Unreported or uncollected TOT affects local businesses in other ways. Owners who rent their units without collecting TOT drive down the rental rates for legitimate rental properties that do collect.
Town Council Takes Action
In order to continue to provide public services to our residents, businesses and guests, the Town Council has made TOT enforcement a high priority for the Community Development Department.
Mayor Pro Tem Lehman stated that, “Over the past 12 months Town Council and Town staff have made enormous strides to cut expenses in an effort to better balance our town’s budget. It’s now time to shift our focus to revenue generation and revenue collection. This is a component of our Town finances that has received too little attention until now.”
John Morris, Chairman of the Mammoth Lakes Lodging Association stated that, “Those homeowners who do not collect and remit TOT in accordance with the Town’s ordinance, or who are renting their properties illegally, are simply hurting all Mammoth residents, second homeowners and visitors by not paying these crucial tax dollars.”
The Town and Mammoth Lakes Tourism have engaged both our lodging partners and the Chamber of Commerce to help formulate a program for TOT enforcement.
“Mammoth Lakes Tourism has been doing an amazing job of driving visitors to our community, but without a strong TOT collection program the benefits of a good visitor base are futile,” stated Mayor Pro Tem Lehman.
Brent Truax, President, Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce stated, “To achieve outstanding customer service and promote business and community growth we need all businesses to be on the same playing field. The customer arriving to Mammoth who stays at a property bypassing the TOT protocol is missing the sense of place that makes Mammoth Lakes a special place to visit and have service interactions that make up our community and create a return visitor.”
The Community Development Department is supporting the TOT enforcement and education program. An anonymous hot line has been created and more information has been posted on the Town page which will be followed with an informational “Rental Enforcement Notice” that will be mailed next week to all property owners in the Town. Town staff will then start enforcement efforts. Depending on the situation, not collecting and remitting TOT could be a misdemeanor or even embezzlement which is a criminal charge.
Anonymous TOT Hotline
An anonymous hotline has been established to report any suspicious activity or rental advertisements. The Town will follow-up on any reports submitted. The Hot Line Number is (760) 934-8989 ext. 275 or email your information to: TOT@ci.mammoth-lakes.ca.us.
If you have questions about TOT enforcement please contact Pam Kobylarz at (760) 934-8989 ext. 275, or she may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your attention to this very important subject that affects our quality of life and the health of our community.