Friday, April 18, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Hands off TOT

By
From page A6 | February 15, 2013 | 12 Comments

The Economic Development Advisory Council under the dynamic leadership of attorney Jim Brunello has done yeoman’s work in simplifying any number of regulations — from street standards to modern traffic measurements. And they have plowed an entire mile-square section of General Plan updating and zoning.

We applaud that work, though the jury’s still out on the super-duper department combining planning, environmental management and transportation into a Community Development Agency and having their budgets managed by one overpaid finance person.

Recently, though, the group has seemed to have boinged off on a tangent, like a snowboarder doing a backside 180 who caught too much air. Brunello and his group are trying to grab some county money to dish out as they near the end of the half pipe.

The advisory council wants 10 percent of the Transient Occupancy Tax collected from motels.

Currently the motel tax revenue is split up with 10 percent going to the office that collects it, the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office, 73 percent going to county Chamber of Commerce and the other EDAC — the El Dorado Arts Council — and 18.5 percent going into the General Fund.

The recent new direction for this group is not only hazy but a bit worrisome. The Economic Development Advisory Committee wants to shell out grants for “community identification” process wherein some activist group dictates what kind of architecture and color scheme a developer can use. Placerville and Georgetown wouldn’t look like they do if there had been a “community identification process.” That also applies to El Dorado Hills Town Center, which has primarily been a vision of Tony Mansour. And Serrano has been primarily a vision of Bill Parker.

Let’s leave the envisioning to the developers. It’s worked for Folsom. The difference for Folsom is it approves plans quickly.

The other spending plan by the Economic Development Advisory Committee is awarding grants to “fabric of the community” organizations. Among those cited are Davey Wiser’s stage coach rides, which the Placerville Downtown Association funds. Or Betty January’s volunteer group that organizes the Clarksville Days annual celebration on Brunello’s property. Or the Apple Hill Growers Association, which funds its own successful marketing program.

Someone else suggested putting the TOT funds to use getting people to stay overnight: “Let’s have eight or 10 things for them to do. We need attractions, but it takes seed money.”

Now there’s a project for the Economic Development Advisory Committee to work on: Eliminate the red tape and zoning that restricts motels in the Fair Play wine district or near Smith Flat, Carson Road or Camino. That doesn’t take public seed money. It takes seed zoning.

As for eight or 10 things to do, look no farther than Adventures Magazine produced by the Mountain Democrat. For free visitors can find 99 things to do in any season in El Dorado County.

Since 2009 the county has laid off hundreds of employees. The ones still holding down county jobs haven’t had a raise in six years. The county needs to hold onto its revenue sources, which have shrunken since 2008.

The Economic Development Advisory Council has been invaluable to the county and voluntary. Keep it voluntary and keep it out of the taxpayers’ pockets.

Mountain Democrat

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 12 comments

  • EvelynFebruary 14, 2013 - 8:42 am

    At the County's website we read: "The Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) is comprised of eleven volunteers appointed to advise the Board of Supervisors regarding policies, project approvals, and courses of action designed to facilitate sustainable economic growth." QUESTION: What are the specific regulatory powers of this committee, comprised of unelected volunteers who come from a variety of businesses and interest groups? ********** EDAC COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Maryann Argyres, T. Abraham, Jim Brunello, Mark Nava, Michael Ranalli, Danny Shilin, Dale Van Dam, Charlie Downs, Jeanne Harper, Gordon Helm, Roberta Long

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  • EvelynFebruary 14, 2013 - 8:45 am

    (More) By what authority do the above unelected volunteers seek to influence the county's allocation of taxpayer funds?

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  • EvelynFebruary 14, 2013 - 8:55 am

    Why is EDAC -- unelected ADVISORY "volunteers" -- spending public monies?

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  • Over InformedFebruary 15, 2013 - 7:24 am

    While there are 11 designates to EDAC, the ad hoc participation includes hundreds of people from a broad circle of the community. It is a highly functional group of volunteers saving the county hundreds of thousands of dollars per through their dedication of their time. Also, EDAC works without a budget, or revenue assignment which means the volunteers fund their own endeavors. Keep in mind that the county does NOT have an Economic Development person or department and this was replaced with EDAC. That means no formal recruitment of businesses or qualifying of opportunities by a county agency. That challenge, at some level, falls to the Chamber of Commerce which also uses that TOT money through a small grant program which is guided by Board of Supervisors. It is more than fair to challenge how TOT money is being spent and by whom. The tax was originally promoted as a funding tool for marketing of tourism so that clearly not the case with the county departments keeping 28% of the funds. The Arts Council percentage needs annual evaluation as well. EDAC's track record of success with no money and broad volunteer activity would suggest that some money, under a specific rule set with defined uses is worthy of discussion.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netFebruary 15, 2013 - 8:00 am

    Is this set up for the chambers of each place in the county to use? Or are a few of these volunteers--just coming up with their own plans--without seeking out the chamber--where they come from? I have already asked the question of who funded the facilitator at our "visioning"--no response. And our chamber was not the host. As printed...a funding tool for marketing of tourism--wouldnt this fall under any commerce? why is the money guided by the BOS? Up here in Pollock Pines--I am starting to question donations-new projects that have asked for "support" have disappeared--where did the money go? (this in no way reflects on any of our older non-profits...Rotary, Lions, Moose...ect.)

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  • under informedFebruary 15, 2013 - 8:25 am

    The TOT tax was originally promoted as funding for Veterans issues and tourism, and was easily approved by the general public... Veterans received not a dime and were used as a vehicle to get the measure passed. The Chamber has used much of these funds for political issues and events that supported selected Supervisors showing few results of bringing in tourism. The chamber was Jack Sweeney’s baby and his support base, it’s about time the funds were used by a group that could show real results. Maybe the new Board of Supervisors should also consider supporting our new Veterans Monument with a few dollars each year since the TOT tax was approved on the backs of Veterans.

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  • EvelynFebruary 15, 2013 - 8:39 am

    under informed: Do you know where one can find the original wording of the TOT measure presented to voters?

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  • EvelynFebruary 15, 2013 - 8:44 am

    THIS is the actual code. But I'm looking for background, how it came into being, etc.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netFebruary 15, 2013 - 9:07 am

    Which "chamber" are you referring to Over informed? Did the veterans fight back? Here in Pollock--if some of events were brought back--our tourism would go up. At the meeting--some people talked about skiing--no one skis here. They talked about a theme? Our wagon train and logging days were huge--I was told they were moved to the fairgrounds--and fell apart. They should not have been moved. Our fourth of July parade has been around a long time--at least the 25+ ive been up here. If the SLY park rec advertises it more--campers would come to see it--it would be huge. Many did come into town last year--had a blast. This is a "business" issue--and should be promoted by chambers.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netFebruary 15, 2013 - 9:17 am

    the El Dorado Arts Council...these are the guys that really can bring people in with the visual and performing arts. there are many grants out there to tap into if a county really provides quality arts. All groups should show where their money goes...but the arts is a huge tourism catch all. New York--Los Angeles-San Francisco....big time Art supporters. People come from all over to see whats happening in the visual and performing arts. Combine this with wine and historic places--it will bring in thousands. But quality counts. People do not have to stay for days...to bring in money. show them quality and historic facts--they'll come.

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  • under informedFebruary 15, 2013 - 9:45 am

    El Dorado County Chamber , Placerville, haven’t you wondered why they appear at issues in front of the BOS that seem to have little to do with tourism, most of which are rezoning issues. I agree the Arts Council like the Veterans Monument are the kinds of Community projects that bring in the tourist. But Arts Council gets little of this money and the Veterans Monument zero. With Sweeny as the protective umbrella the Chamber has been hired as a sub group to carry out various tasks with almost no accountability.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netFebruary 15, 2013 - 12:18 pm

    I am horrified that veterans were cut out. I hope someone looks into this...Veterans above all should be honored--they protect our freedoms. Freedoms to have tourism. Without our vets--life would be much different.

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