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Council Set to Fill Newly Created Tax Advisory Committee

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By Jorge Casuso

May 4, 2023 -- Five applicants are vying to sit on a newly formed committee that will advise the City Council on how to use more than $4 million a year to fund "on-going urgent community priorities."

The funds are generated by Measure CS, a bed tax hike overwhelmingly approved by local voters in November that will provide revenues targeted to enhance public safety and address homelessness.

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The Council -- which is scheduled to make appointments to the five- member Transient Occupancy Tax Advisory Committee on Tuesday -- has a minimum number of applicants to choose from.

But the candidates easily meet the qualifications, which call for two Santa Monica residents, two representatives or members from local hospitality businesses and one member representing the homeless behavioral health services community.

Two of the applicants are Sam J. Jagger, general manager of The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, and Danielle Goller, general manager of Ambrose Hotel.

Two others ran for the City Council in November and have experience serving on boards and commissions.

Natalya Zernitskaya, who finished fourth in the race for three Council seats, was president of the League of Women Voters of Santa Monica for four years and has served on various non-profit boards.

While Recreation and Parks Commissioner Albin R Gielicz served 8 years on the Santa Monica Travel and Tourism Board and six on the Social Services Commission.

RoseMary Regalbuto -- who was president and CEO of Meals on Wheels West for 27 years -- served eight years on the Tourism Board and another eight on the Commission on Older Americans, which became the Commission for the Senior Community.

Measure CS -- which won with 27,282 yes votes to 9,651 no votes -- raises transient occupancy tax (bed tax) by 1 percent for hotels and motels and 3 percent for home-shares.

"The scope of work of the Committee is to provide non-binding recommendations as to the use of the additional funds raised from the rate increases adopted by the voters pursuant to Measure CS," according to the resolution approved by the Council.

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