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Tuesday Is Deadline to File Bed-Tax Arguments

August 14, 2000|CHRIS CEBALLOS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Tuesday is the deadline to turn in arguments for or against the proposed hotel visitor's tax increase, which will appear on the general election voter's guide.

The measure would increase the tax that hotels charge their customers from 10% to 12%. City officials hope to capitalize on six new hotels in Garden Grove that might capture the business of visitors to the new Disneyland developments in Anaheim.

In March, about 60% of city voters rejected a similar proposal to raise the tax to 13%.

In that attempt, the proposal was put on the ballot with a unanimous vote from the City Council. This time around the council vote was 3 to 2.

"I think they're really kind of taking advantage of the people," says former City Councilman Bob Dinsen, who plans to submit an argument against the proposal. "So while the economy is in pretty good shape . . . it seems to me that there's too much of the people's income going to government."

Dinsen also submitted a proposal against the March measure and forced city officials to go to court when they sought to edit his argument, which included a list of other fee increases approved in recent years.

A judge ruled that inaccuracies could be fixed but that the spirit of Dinsen's argument could not be changed.

"I think they'll have a harder time suing me this time," Dinsen said. "Most everything can be backed up by papers.'

Dinsen's new argument hasn't changed much. He still asserts that tourists would go to cities with lower bed-tax rates, such as Westminster with an 8% tax and Stanton with 11%. One difference is his question about how long it will take to see any benefit from a proposed increase. Dinsen points to redevelopment agreements that call for a large portion of tax revenue to be directed toward paying off bonds issued by city officials.

The bonds are used to purchase the property the new hotels are being built upon. This includes the Holiday Inn Express Hotel at Sungrove Street and Garden Grove Boulevard, where a ground-breaking ceremony was held last week.

Dinsen says that the tax money is being given to developers when it should be going to fire, police and other city services.

Of course, Dinsen's argument still must be accepted by City Clerk Ruth Smith. According to election law, groups and organizations receive priority when submitting arguments for or against proposals. After that, it's a matter of determining which reasonable argument was submitted first.

As of Friday, no arguments had been submitted for or against the measure.

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Chris Ceballos can be reached at (714) 966-7440.

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