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A Tax Refund in Right Spirit

November 29, 1987

In this holiday season that began with Thanksgiving, it's good to see that the homeless, so relatively unseen and unrepresented in affluent Orange County, have not been forgotten by all local elected officials.

On holidays, especially Thanksgiving Day, thoughts naturally go to those who lack not only the plenty that so many Orange County residents enjoy, but the basics as well. And during the Christmas season, the story of Mary and Joseph cannot but bring to mind the families today who will be searching for a roof over their heads come Christmas Eve.

In keeping with those thoughts, the Anaheim City Council on Tuesday is scheduled to consider final adoption of an ordinance that will refund the 10% bed tax charged on hotel and motel room rentals to the nonprofit social service agencies that each year provide thousands of homeless people with hotel rooms through the Anaheim shelter program. The money in turn would be used to rent more rooms for the homeless.

The room tax refunds under consideration, while welcome, are modest. In all, the return to the agencies is estimated at $7,000 a year--a pittance contrasted with the more than $15 million the bed tax brings into the Anaheim treasury each year. But it's a start. And a logical and welcome one.

The Anaheim council found more than $38,000 in its tight budget for this weekend's Gracias '87 Festival, a reasonable expenditure to focus attention on the city's Latino population. Spending more money on the homeless population to provide emergency shelter for the night is reasonable too.

The Anaheim council should pass the bed tax refund Tuesday. And other cities throughout the county should follow the lead and begin using some of the millions of dollars in bed tax revenues they collect each year to help house the homeless.

Bed taxes, paid primarily by tourists and business firms, are levied against commercial room rentals. It seems only fitting that some of that tax revenue goes to provide rooms for homeless residents who otherwise would have no place to stay.

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