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San Bernardino County discloses information about TOT taxes collected after BigBearCity.com inquired

Story by Theodore Trentman

Dawn Rowe
SB County Supervisors Hiding Money

Once upon a possible future, in the vibrant county of San Bernardino, a group of concerned residents and home owners realized the untapped potential that lay within their community. They recognized that the revenue generated from tourism could be a catalyst for growth, providing better job opportunities and a stronger infrastructure for all. However, there was a lingering concern: the lack of transparency and accountability regarding how the county spent the money collected from the tourism community.


The residents and home owners decided it was time for a change. They gathered together, forming a coalition dedicated to improving their county's future. Their first step was to request data from the county officials, specifically regarding the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), which was collected from tourists staying in local accommodations (see below). Astonishingly, the county had never disclosed the total amount of TOT collected, let alone how it was allocated.


With this information in hand, the residents and home owners began researching best practices from other counties and cities that had successfully leveraged tourism revenue to benefit their communities. They discovered inspiring examples where funds were directed towards job creation, infrastructure development, and initiatives that attracted even more tourists.


Armed with knowledge and a clear vision, the residents and home owners devised a strategy to bring about change. They organized town hall meetings, inviting both county officials and fellow residents to participate in open discussions about the future of San Bernardino. They highlighted the potential of tourism to not only enhance the county's economy but also to improve the lives of its residents and home owners.


Together, they proposed a new approach to managing the TOT revenue. Rather than allowing it to disappear into a general fund, they advocated for a dedicated allocation to be reinvested into the community. Their proposal included initiatives such as vocational training programs, small business support, and infrastructure improvements that would attract even more tourists.


To gain momentum and support, the residents and home owners reached out to local businesses, community organizations, and influential figures who shared their vision for a brighter future. They partnered with tourism industry professionals to showcase the benefits of investing in local attractions, events, and cultural experiences. Together, they created a compelling case for redirecting the TOT revenue towards projects that would both enhance the county's appeal and improve the lives of its residents and home owners.


Through their collective efforts, the residents and home owners of San Bernardino County began to see positive changes. County officials, realizing the groundswell of support, acknowledged the need for transparency and accountability. They committed to disclosing the total amount of TOT collected on a regular basis and started a public dialogue about how the funds should be allocated.


Over time, the residents' and home owners strategy bore fruit. The TOT revenue was no longer shrouded in mystery but became a tool for community development. Jobs were created, vocational training programs flourished, and the county's infrastructure received much-needed investments. As a result, tourism in San Bernardino County thrived, attracting more visitors and generating even greater revenue.


The residents' and home owners unwavering determination and commitment to their community had paid off. By actively participating in the decision-making process and holding their elected officials accountable, they had steered the tourism revenue towards a shared vision of a prosperous and inclusive San Bernardino County.


And so, the residents and home owners of San Bernardino County became an inspiring example for other communities, showing the power of collective action and the importance of ensuring that public funds are utilized to benefit the greater good. Their story serves as a reminder that, with dedication and unity, communities can shape their own destiny and create a brighter future for all.

Response from SB County below... The attached documents show TOT collected from within each community 2019-2023. The County does not possess ZIP Code breakdowns. TOT is deposited into countywide discretionary general funding, and then the Board directs how the funding is spent. Individual funds associated with TOT are not required to be allocated towards tourism or any geographic area specifically. However, countywide discretionary general funding has been utilized in the past to fund enhanced STR enforcement. For example the Board approved an allocation in the 2022 Budget of $1.8 million towards enforcement activities associated with various community concerns including Short Term Rentals (see below). Recommended budget 2021-2022

2021-22-Recommended-Budget-F
.pdf
Download PDF • 5.65MB

TOT Taxes collected by year listed below...


TOT 22-23
.pdf
Download PDF • 437KB

TOT 21-22
.pdf
Download PDF • 548KB

TOT 20-21
.pdf
Download PDF • 212KB

TOT 19-20
.pdf
Download PDF • 360KB

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