Cupertino council to debate spending $55k to poll hotel tax increase

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a lot of political considerations to the wind. Numerous efforts that three months ago seemed bound for the November ballot have fallen by the wayside.

Facing difficult budget questions, like every other city in the region, Cupertino is looking for ways to increase revenues. The city has had to furlough staff and cut programs to make budget ends meet in recent months.

“It has become increasingly difficult to fund significant capital improvement projects while simultaneously funding maintenance and repair of the City’s aging buildings and infrastructure due to rising costs,” said the staff report on potential revenue increases.

Among the measures under consideration is an increase in the city’s Transient Occupancy Tax – known as TOT. Cupertino’s current 12% rate is in the median of Santa Clara county cities, though well below Palo Alto’s 15.5% rate. It was last increased in 2012, from 10% to 12%.

At their meeting this coming week, the council will decide debate spending up to $55,000 on a polling and political strategy firm to guide the rate increase toward success in the November 3, 2020 election.

The council would have to approve putting the measure on the ballot for voters by August 7. It would require a majority vote to pass if revenue goes to the general fund. If council wanted the revenue directed to a specific project, it would require 2/3 of voter support.

City staff expects increasing the TOT from 12% to 14% would raise $1.7 million per year in added revenue.