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"City should reveal STR costs and revenue"
Letter to the Editor, Hi-Desert Star / Desert Trail, February 23, 2022
Short-term vacation home rentals are of paramount concern to Twentynine Palms residents. Yet the financial report presented to City Council on Feb. 8 failed to detail VHR related revenue and expenses. Permit and transient occupancy tax revenue were presented as general categories without specifying sources. Similarly, there was no accounting for the expenses the city incurs on VHRs.
The Twentynine Palms city manager often touts revenue from VHRs to support a position promoting unfettered growth, yet these figures are meaningless without a review of relevant expenses. Even the advisory VHR committee requested an accounting of VHR expenses, yet none was presented. In fact, it appears that the city has NEVER evaluated VHR revenue against VHR expense to produce a true net income figure. If the city doesn’t have the systems to do this level of accounting, then shouldn’t the city improve its systems?
Additionally the city is counting on a budgeted transient occupancy tax figure of $1.4 million with the city manager projecting a potential $1.7 million in transient occupancy tax revenue. Yet, in the first six months of the year, the city has collected only one-third of the budgeted amount.
We fear that the city is relying on an explosion of VHR permits and related revenue in the last six months of the fiscal year. This indicates that the city remains tone deaf to long term residents advocating to save their neighborhoods by placing limits on VHRs.
Even though the financial report presented was intended as a summary, we would expect particular attention to major issues facing the city. Yet VHRs are buried in generalities.
We demand transparency on this issue and ask that the Twentynine Palms City Council request an immediate accounting of VHR revenue and expenses for the six month period ending Dec. 31, 2021.