By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Angels Camp voters overwhelmingly passed a 4 percent increase in the tax on hotel and motel rooms.
The transient occupancy tax will increase from 6 percent to 10 percent beginning July 1, as a result of 712 yes votes that were mailed in by the end of business yesterday in a special election.
For years, the city has charged a 6 percent TOT on hotel, motel, bed-and-breakfast, time-share and other temporary lodgings. That money about $400,000 a year went into the city's general fund.
The additional 4 percent approved yesterday will raise about $270,000 a year and be divided among three categories: roads, emergency services and the promotion of tourism in the area.
Debbie Smith, elections coordinator for the county, said 891 ballots were received by the elections office by the end of business yesterday. Of those, 712 or 80.2 percent voted for the increase in the tax and 176 or 19.8 percent voted against the increase. Three ballots were blank.
The measure needed a supermajority, or two-thirds, to pass. Smith said the mail-in election had a 47.5 percent return rate. There are registered voters 1,875 in the city.
"I'm very pleased to see that the measure won and with such a large margin," said Mayor Debbie Ponte.
Tad Folendorf, owner of the Gold Country Inn Motel and Jumping Frog Motel and a former mayor of Angels Camp, said he was raising a glass of champagne in celebration of the tax increase.
"I think it was a better turnout than expected and everyone will benefit from it, from the tourist to the resident," he said. "The TOT is the only tax added onto room charges and the city gets it all, unlike sales tax, where the state takes most of it.
"This tax means the city can provide better safety and protection to both citizens and guests," he said.