Chino Hills Councilman Brian Johsz did not join his fellow councilmembers in signing the argument in favor of Measure M, the hotel tax that appears on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The measure would impose a 12 percent tax on hotel visitors, an increase of 2 percent, to generate revenues for the city.

Councilman Johsz said it is up to the voters whether or not they want to approve or defeat the measure.

“I didn’t sign it because I wanted to keep that independence in leaving it up to voters on whether it passed or not,” he said.

The “transient occupancy tax” is collected from each guest with the room payment and remitted to the City of Chino Hills.

The current tax is 10 percent. According to the impartial analysis of Measure M, a yes vote would generate an additional $260,000 to city coffers per year. 

Mr. Johsz approved the tax increase with the rest of his colleagues in June and also approved the resolution to file a written argument the following month.

During the discussion, however, he expressed reluctance about signing his name to the argument.

Mayor Art Bennett suggested all five councilmembers sign the argument because all five agreed to place it on the ballot. 

“It is our fiduciary responsibility to our residents to sustain revenues to the city,” he said. “These revenues are not coming out of the taxpayers’ pockets,” he said.

Councilwoman Cynthia Moran said although she wasn’t happy about signing her name in support of the measure because of the perception that government is trying to force the tax upon the people, it was important because the entire council voted to place it on the ballot.

“If all five of us are not listed, it will do more harm than good,” she said.

The measure was signed by Mayor Bennett and councilmembers Moran, Peter Rogers, and Ray Marquez. 

Hotel tax revenues were expected to decrease by $300,000 in fiscal year 2019-20 because of the coronavirus and a $100,000 shortfall in hotel tax revenues was projected for fiscal year 2020-21, according to the city budget. 

On May 27, the council authorized a contract for $30,000 with Lew Edwards Group to provide information to the public on the measure.

City Manager Benjamin Montgomery said the contract was needed to supplement the community relations staff who were heavily burdened with activiites related to the pandemic. 

As staff took over the outreach, the consultant’s duration, services and costs were reduced, he said. 

Staff was able to develop outreach to educate and inform voters in line with Fair Political Practices Commission regulations, Mr. Montgomery said. 

“The city is allowed to provide neutral and educational information in communication formats traditionally used by the city,” he said. 

Chino Hills used its website, a press release and quarterly newsletters. 

The contract with the consultant  was reduced by $10,000. 

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