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Santa Barbara's hotel industry not meeting projections for occupancy tax

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Flickr member Damian Gadal
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The tax money generated by the City of Santa Barbara's hotel industry is not hitting government projections. 

The latest numbers show the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is down for a second month since this summer.

Julie Nemes is the City's Treasury Manager and said the Sandman Inn on State Street closed its doors this past spring, which could be contributing to the revenue drop.

"What we are seeing for this October, 2015 was a slight decrease in the occupancy rate, I believe it was about 0.4 percent," said Nemes. "So the occupancy is fairly stable from the prior fiscal year, but we did an impact from that one hotel closure in the City of Santa Barbara."

Money raised by the TOT helps boost the city's General Fund. Nemes said the city projected more than six percent growth in that tax for this fiscal year, but currently is only seeing just over two percent.

Nemes said Tuesday that it's too early to determine whether this trend will continue, so no plans have been made yet to adjust for the shortfall. Last year's TOT came in over projections.

The City has collected nearly $7.9 million in TOT revenues in the first four months of the fiscal year, which runs from July 1 through June 30. Year-to-date TOT collections are 2.1 percent ahead of last year. The budget for Fiscal Year 2016 is $19,707,100.