County keeps eyes on short rentals
John Rieping/The Madera Tribune
Supervisor David Rogers, District 2, presents a certificate and offers his hand Tuesday to Wilson Middle School student Farrah Emery of Chowchilla as county officials, her mother, and her school principal look on. Farrah submitted the winning artwork for a Madera County Behavioral Health Services contest, “What Does Mental Health Mean to You?”
Madera County will enter a 3-year agreement with Host Compliance, which will research short-term vacation rental listings to identify homeowners dodging local requirements.
The investigative, monitoring and other services of San Francisco-based Host Compliance will cost $39,000 per year, but is expected to bring in revenue through increased tax collection and business license fees.
County supervisors okayed the agreement at its regular meeting Tuesday.
Those not following local rules for short-term rentals are “difficult to locate,” according to the county’s tax collector’s office, because they’re using a number of online platforms to advertise their home or cabin for rent in Madera County.
“This (service) allows us to not only see the parcels and the properties that are being rented but also who’s renting them and how many days they might be renting them,” said Tracy Kennedy, Madera County treasurer-tax collector. “So that gives us a really good overview of what is going on for enforcement purposes. We want everybody to be in compliance.”
Since 2017, the county has required all those who offer “short-term” rentals (less than 30 days) to apply for a county business license and to charge and collect a 9 percent Transient Occupancy Tax and a 2 percent Tourism Business Improvement Tax. Thus those who evade or are unaware of county requirements have an unfair advantage against the 336 short-term rental operators who do follow them, Kennedy told county supervisors.
“These are actual businesses that have an impact,” responded Supervisor David Rogers, District 2. “And we have tourism that comes into the county. They have an impact on roads and services, and this is our way of collecting the taxes that would be commensurate with that impact… There’s no other way.”
After identifying unpermitted rentals, Host Compliance will notify property owners with a warning letter approved by the county and teach them how to follow local requirements. It will also continue to monitor subsequent rental activity.
The county expects to earn about $3.2 million from short-term rentals this fiscal year, Kennedy told supervisors.
Visit www.hostcompliance.com for information on Host Compliance.
Madera County proclaimed May 2019 to be Mental Health Month, Resource Family Appreciation Month, and CASA Awareness and Foster Care Month.
Several county supervisors and meeting attendees wore lime green Tuesday in celebration of Mental Health Month, which first began as Mental Health Week in 1949 to educate U.S. residents about mental illness and wellness. The county’s Behavioral Health Services is coordinating related activities and presentations at seven county schools this month as well as at First 5 Madera and Madera Community Hospital. Call 673-3508 for details.
The agency will also take part in a National Association on Mental Illness fund-raising walk Saturday at Fresno State University. Check-in time is 7:30 a.m. with the start time at 9 a.m.
The county’s Resource Family Approval program works with resource parents, formerly known as foster parents, who provide a temporary home for displaced children until and if they can be reunified with their birth parents. Through the county’s program, “we keep our children in Madera,” social worker supervisor Fernando Escalante told supervisors.
Former teacher Wilma Hashimoto, executive director of CASA of Fresno and Madera Counties, spoke before county supervisors about its mission. She said CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) recruits, trains and supports 43 community volunteers who advocate for at-risk foster children, who suffer from post-traumatic stress at higher rates than war veterans.
Supervisor Robert Poythress, District 3, shared an anecdote told to him by advocate Alan Hall. When Hall took CASA kids to Chuck E. Cheese restaurant on one occasion, the young people had marveled at the sight of so many families. He said the incident underscored the importance of the agency’s mission.
Visit https://bit.ly/2LvJ1H2 online for details on this weekend’s NAMI Walk. Visit www.casafresnomadera.org for information on CASA of Fresno and Madera Counties. Visit https://bit.ly/2Vctifw to learn about resource parenting or to apply online.