Chico, Calif.--Chico may soon be deficit spending if they don't look at ways to increase revenue. Despite this, on Tuesday night the city council voted to approve more funding for the arts-- a decision that not everyone is happy with.
The council voted four to three to allocate one percent of the transient occupancy tax to support the city's arts. The tax, also known as TOT, is a 10% tax payed by hotel and motel visitors that visit Chico.
Even though residents won't have to pay that, some say the city isn't spending the money responsibly.
Over the last three years, there's been a nine-percent increase in the amount of money the city's transient occupancy tax is generating. This year it's projected to draw in $2.75 million for the city.
Stephen Cummins with the Chico Arts Commission said a percentage of that should support the city's arts.
"My argument for supporting the arts is that it's part of our quality of life. Our arts are part of public safety, part of our infrastructure of our community, it's what makes Chico livable," said Cummins.
With the council's decision to give one-percent of the TOT to the arts, that means they will get $27,000 the next fiscal year.
But Mayor Sean Morgan says that's money that could be used elsewhere.
"Not that I don't like art, it's fantastic, but we don't have enough police officers, our roads are fallign apartment, we don't know what we're going to do about the cal pers payments,” Morgan said.
Is the city in a position where they should be concerned if they don't find another way to draw in revenue? City finance director Scott Dowell says "If we don't take action, yes. But that's why we're doing it now, that's why were' talking about it now."
"The five year projection that we saw last night, we haven't seen anything like that in 20 years in this city. Ever. It's unbelievable what these people are doing. The numbers are only as good if you pay attention them," Morgan said.
Cummins says he understands the needs of the city, but that the arts commission's request is modest.
"When you talk about the budget of the city, it may not be a lot of money but for a small arts organization, somebody that's really doing mission-driven work in the community, that arts grant can really mean a lot," he said.
The mayor believes the community should be stepping up to help.
"The great thing about Chico is when something needs to get done, the community comes together and they deliver. We have to stop looking at government to fund everything because number one they can't and number two they're really not that good at fixing things," he said.
Dowell is proposing that the city increase the transient occupancy tax to 15 percent as one of many ways to help the city draw in more revenue.
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