b'Reality, in which she noted the uneven ap- its lodging options? Does your visitor bureau taxes because it makes theplication of TOT, not only between private promote outdoor recreation, including camp- associationseligiblefor Not only are owners targets of transient taxes, but property taxesparks and government-run campgrounds but ing? When they do so, you are part of the grants and advertising sup- in some areas are on the risebetween private parks and parks run by Na- local visitor landscape. Staying at your camp- port that they would not oth-tive American casinos. ground/park becomes an option to consider. erwisehave,ArlingtonCity-, county-, state-, federal- and other Sipe also commented that TOT funds used said.government-run parks are exempt from col- for marketing purposes can be a good thing.Transientoccupancylecting TOT taxes. This puts commercial RV Allthingsbeingequal,RVparksand taxes are quite common inparks at a competitive disadvantage, Sipe campgrounds should support tourism fund- some areas of the country.wrote, adding that Native American casinos ing. It is well-documented that for every dollar In the state of New York, foralso are not required to collect TOT. invested into tourism marketing, a minimum example, occupancy taxesSipesaidCampCalNOWhasassisted of $7 is returned to the local economy by vis- areassessedoncamp-campgrounds in many jurisdictions in fighting itors, she explained. ground rental accommoda-TOT efforts over the years, including parks in Mary Arlington, who serves as executive tionsinmostcounties,Imperial,Tuolumne,Alpine,Amadorand directoroftheColorado accordingtoDonaldG.Mendocino counties. Camping and Lodge Own- Bennett, Jr., president andBut while private parks typically engage ers Association(CCLOA) as CEOoftheCampgroundtheir associations in limiting or defeating well as at the South Dakota Owners of New York State (CONY).trary is property tax, because historically RVTOTs, Sipe said there can be benefits to park Campground Owners As- The monies are generally used for the parks have tended to fly a bit under the radar,operators when they collect TOTs. sociation (SDCOA),told most part for additional tourism funding and said Brian Schaeffer, executive director andWhen TOTs are used to fund tourism WCM thatcampgrounds promotion, he said. CEO of the Texas Association of Campgroundmarketing, then they can be a powerful tool Mary Arlington and state campground as- However, the risk of Owners(TACO). Were not the sexiest, mostto increase business, Sipe explained. If sociations that work to ex- tax increases is always high-profile industry out there and, in manyyour park is being assessed TOTs that fund clude themselves from transient occupancy presentasstateand cases, our properties were well outside ofmore than just local fire and police budgets, taxes might also preclude themselves from ap- local governments look town. But now, cities and towns have grownyou need to make sure that your park is being plying for state marketing grants. formoresourcesof up, and now many parks that were in the coun-included in all marketing efforts. Does your In some states, the campground associa- revenue.Ittherefore try arent in the country anymore.visitor bureau include camping and RVing in tions can benefit from transient occupancy behooves park opera- As a result, Schaeffer said, private parksDonald G. Bennett, Jr. tors to get involved with have gotten hit with dramatic increases inand support their state and national camp- property taxes.ground associations because it strengthens Whenwesurveyedourmembers,atthe industrys ability to protect park operators least half of them have had their propertyfrom excessive taxation as well as burden- taxes go up 300% over the last five years, hesome regulations, said Sparrow, who also said, adding, Taxes that were $15,000 fiveserves at the national level as a member of years ago are now $60,000. Thats a lot ofARVCs Public Affairs Committee. money for a small business owner to pay.(Park operators) can be politically inac- Schaeffer said the problem is the arbitrarytive at their own peril, Sparrow said, adding, way county assessors are tallying up prop-The associations need to have the financial erty values. Since the sales prices of proper-resources to fight these battles. ties do not have to be disclosed in Texas,Florida ARVCs engagement on the taxa- assessors often formu-tion issue, he added, helped generate new late property taxes bymembers for the association in Alabama. guessing how much in-We had 40 parks prior to this (taxation) come a park generates.issue, Sparrow said. I think were at 50 now. There is a tendencyfortaxassessorstoProperty Taxes Also an Issue drive by a park and seeWhile parks in many jurisdictions across that its fullalthough Brian Schaefferthe country have recently been targeted by it may be full of month-sales taxes and TOT initiatives, private parks liesand then see that they rent out sitesin Texas have suffered from dramatic in- for $50 a night, looking at the nightly ratecreases in property tax assessments. posted on the parks website, Schaeffer ex-The tax that kills us that is far more arbi- plained.Trouble is, 90% of the parks guests couldbe monthlies who pay a much lower rate. Buttax assessors dont know this because mostdo not have much of an understanding of theRV park business.Schaeffer said commercial property taxeshave risen so much in Texas that its had theeffectofreducingthemigrationofbusi-nesses from other areas of the country intothe Lone Star State.There was a period of time when Texaswas No. 1 for business migration; now werenumber five or six, he said.TACO has been encouraging its membersto hire tax-mitigation companies, such asDallas-based P.E. Pennington & Co. Inc., tofight to reduce their property taxes.We are encouraging all of our membersto protest property tax increases, Schaeffersaid. If you protest, whatever the outcomeis, your taxes are frozen for two years. Wethink the protest is the way to go.Schaeffer added that the more businessesand residents contest their local property taxincreases, the less likely local jurisdictionswill fight, simply because of the logjam cre-ated by such protests.Schaeffer said TACO is seeing its mem-bership grow as more and more private parksrecognize that the association can providethem with information and resources to helpthem with their tax fights. Schaeffer toldWCMhe believes there are about 550 to 600viable private parks in Texas, about 400 ofwhich are TACO members.WCM32 -October 2019Woodalls Campground Management'