A long-simmering dispute between the city of Red Bluff, Calif., and its only RV park over the transient occupancy tax may be settled on the November ballot.
The city council this week voted 4-1 to submit to voters an ordinance restating what’s already on the books — that the 10% “bed” tax applies to RV parks, camping sites and campgrounds, the Redding Record-Searchlight reported.
The council’s action stems from efforts over recent years to collect the tax from Durango RV Resort, which opened in 2008.
In June 2011, city Finance Director Sandy Ryan sent a letter to resort management demanding almost $42,000 of taxes, interest and penalties.
While the city has maintained such facilities have been covered by its ordinance all along, it wasn’t until September that it was amended to specifically name RV parks and campgrounds in the definition of “hotel.” Officials at the time deemed the move a clarification, not an expansion of the tax.
City Manager Rick Crabtree said Thursday (July 19) that Durango lawyers disagreed, arguing the move was illegal under Proposition 218, the 1996 Right to Vote on Taxes Act, and suggesting the matter be put on the ballot.
“Rather than entering into a potentially protracted and expensive legal battle over these issues, staff recommends that the City Council submit the issue to voters for resolution,” Crabtree wrote in a report to the council.
He estimated the city’s loss in revenue from the 174-space resort at $52,000 for the first six months of this year.
Contacted Thursday, Durango co-manager Pam Cappello said she was concerned about how the tax would affect the business and its “competitive edge.”
“There’s not so much consideration for the fiscal impact to the resort,” she said. Still, Cappello looks forward to a resolution of the issue.
“We now have an opportunity to present this to the people of Red Bluff and let them make a decision,” she said.
Red Bluff’s original ordinance was adopted in 1965, setting the bed tax at 4%, and it was amended several times over the years. The tax applies only to stays of 30 days or less and proceeds go into the general fund.
In Redding, RV parks pay a 10% bed tax, Deputy City Manager Greg Clark said.
KOA Tellico Plains, Tenn., owner William Stokely is thankful, at least, for the timing of the tornado that struck Monroe County on Friday (March 2).
According to a report in the Knoxville New Sentinel, the storm leveled the empty commercial campground a mere two weeks before it was to open for the season, Stokely said.
“I think God was looking out for some people,” he said.
More than a dozen structures on the 30-acre site, including 10 cabins, two lodges and the main office building, were caught directly in the tornado’s path after it swept through downtown Tellico Plains and crossed the Tellico River.
The National Weather Service has since confirmed the tornado was an EF-2 with winds up to 130 mph. Its path was 400 yards wide and 14.6 miles long. No major injuries have been reported.
Stokely estimated the value of the damaged and destroyed structures, all built within the past 10 years, at more than $1 million. He said he doesn’t know how long it may take to rebuild.
Park operators who attended the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) recent Outdoor Hospitality Convention & Expo in Savannah, Ga., said they expect to save thousands of dollars as a result of the association’s latest member benefit programs for products and services ranging from park models to satellite television service.
ARVC President and CEO Paul Bambei told conference attendees that the association is close to finalizing an agreement with the three music licensing companies that could translate into significantly lower licensing fees for participating ARVC members, whose businesses would be put on a “do not contact” list – ending the harassment from music licensing companies that park operators have complained about for years.
“Just the music deal alone is worth it for everybody to be a member of ARVC,” said George O’Leary, a longtime watchdog of ARVC’s Executive Committee since serving on the association’s board from 2001 to 2006.
Speaking to park operators at ARVC’s annual breakfast meeting, O’Leary publicly commended Bambei for his efforts to develop valuable member benefit programs. In an interview, O’Leary noted the association’s new agreement with “He Lifts Me,” a seller of ADA-approved pool lifts. “A savings of $800 per park is possible,” O’Leary said, adding, “It would not surprise me if membership in our state and national associations increased by 20% to 40% in the near future.”
O’Leary also publicly lauded Bambei’s decision to purchase more affordable office space in Centennial, Colo., near Denver, instead of more expensive office locations in Castle Rock and Larkspur. ARVC’s decision to move its headquarters to Centennial early this year saved the association more than $300,000.
O’Leary, who owns the two Rincon Country RV Parks in Tucson, Ariz., also complimented the ARVC board for hiring Bambei, who started work Dec. 1, 2010. “I have great confidence in Paul Bambei,” O’Leary said, adding that he believes the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds is on the right path under Bambei’s leadership.
Bambei, for his part, told conference attendees that he remains focused on developing a series of member benefit programs that far exceed the cost of ARVC dues.
These programs include a preferred provider agreement with Skyline Corp., which now provides ARVC member parks with significant savings on towable travel trailers as well as park models, which are custom designed for use as rental units. Former ARVC Chairman David Berg said the savings from a single park model purchase can offset the cost of ARVC dues for as much as 20 years.
ARVC also recently signed an agreement with Just In Time Communications Inc., a national distributor for DIRECTV, to provide satellite television service to ARVC member parks at vastly reduced rates that can save park operators tens of thousands of dollars a year, depending on the size of their park. Bambei said over 150 parks have already signed up for the satellite television benefit program.
“People are really going to get a different outlook on the association as they become aware of these new programs,” said Tim Deputy, general manager of Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla., who noted that new programs give small parks and large parks discounts they couldn’t normally achieve on their own. Deputy alone expects to save at least $5,000 or $6,000 a year in music licensing fees after ARVC’s new music licensing program is finalized.
“The word needs to get out about how valuable these programs are,” Deputy said.
Donald Sears, co-owner of Clare-Mar Lakes Campground in Wellington, Ohio, said the new programs are beneficial to park operators. He added that the educational seminars at the Nov. 30- Dec. 2 Outdoor Hospitality Convention & Expo were among the best he’s ever attended. “We’ve owned the campground for over 40 years and I’ve been to all of the conventions for the last 15 years, and this is probably one of the better formatted conventions I’ve seen yet,” he said.
Bambei said paid registrations for the Savannah convention were up 32% compared to last year’s figures, a growth figure Bambei attributes to park operator interest in learning about ARVC’s new member programs as well as park operator interest in attending the industry’s largest tradeshow and attending new education seminars on business topics that haven’t been offered before.
Next year’s Outdoor Hospitality Convention & Tradeshow is scheduled for Nov. 28-30 at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Bambei said efforts are underway to change the dates of the annual convention in subsequent years so that it doesn’t conflict with conventions held by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and other RV and campground industry conventions.
Industry E News LLC, the publishers of Campground & RV Park E News and Gateway USA online publications, has a new company structure.
Dennis Macready, the editor and joint publisher, has acquired 100% ownership following a business deal with founder Gary Wakerley.
“I am looking forward to the challenge and am dedicated to making both publications the best they can possibly be,” Macready stated in a story in this week’s edition of Campground & RV Park E News. “We have been through tough times in the two and a half years I have been involved in the industry.”
The weekly Campground & RV Park E News was launched June 2, 2008, and published its 150th issue this week.
Macready is a native of Australia where he was active in online publications.
A woman who backed a minivan over a tent at a southern Minnesota campground and killed a baby has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison.
Nicolle Marie Mercedes Prechel was given a 58-month sentence for causing the death of 3-month-old Whyatt James Sander and injuring h Getting You Ex Gf Back is mother, according to the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus Leader.
Prechel sobbed as she apologized to the baby’s parents and family during sentencing in Renville County District Court Thursday (Nov. 12).
Prosecutors say Prechel backed over the tent July 5 after a night of drinking whiskey and smoking marijuana. The incident happened at Renville County’s Beaver Falls Park.
Hundreds of motorhomes and a variety of accessory merchandise will be assembled in Bowling Green, Ohio, July 20-23 in a display of recreation vehicles at Bowling Green State University.
The motorhome exhibition is part of a convention of an international motorhome owners’ club, the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), based in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to an FMCA news release.
The RV exhibition is just one element of the FMCA convention. Approximately 2,600 families will travel from across North America in their motorhomes to take part in the event, and some 8,000 people will be on hand. The convention will include seminars on topics relative to RVing, topflight professional entertainment and various social events.
On Monday, July 20, from 1 to 5 p.m., a special viewing of only the motorhome exhibits will take place. Hours for viewing motorhome and booth display exhibits are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Some 18 motorhome manufacturers and five Ohio dealers will be bringing new motorhomes to Bowling Green for convention attendees to tour. Plus, approximately 230 companies will display their wares inside the air-conditioned space of the Charles Perry Field House, encompassing nearly 75,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space.
The daily fee for viewing motorhomes and booth displays is $7 per person; children 12 and under admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Visitors can save $2 on a day pass by bringing a nonperishable food item to benefit the Bowling Green Food Pantry. A Daily Passport that provides admittance to the exhibits, seminars, and daytime and evening entertainment is available for $55 per person. The admission fee on Monday covers admission on Tuesday as well.
Convention attendees will be able to view the latest features and innovations that are available in motorhomes. Some of the displays will feature production-line units, and others will demo custom-built coaches for uses ranging from family camping to transporting high-tech business equipment, or for use as conference coaches. A great variety of motorhome styles and a broad price range will be represented. In addition, the Charles Perry Field House will overflow with RV accessories, components, supplies and campground information.
No one plans on setting records this year in most U.S. business sectors, including the RV park and campground business. But the good news is that the nation’s campground operators are generally experiencing a decent year, based on positive reports thus far from a wide array of locales, from Ohio to Texas and California.
Montana-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) is seeing much the same thing after a slow start coming out of the winter, according to KOA Vice President of Communications Mike Gast.
“We have a report that we generate every week called a weekly Flashlight Report, and it looks at camper night trends both on the franchise and the company-owned properties side,” said Gast. “We measure everything from short-term nights on RVs to cabins to lodge and tent traffic, and it’s been getting consistently better, week to week, by a percent or two as it’s gone along – to the extent that we’re now only about 5-6% under last year, and 2008 was one of our best years ever.
“We got off to a very slow start with the winter traffic, so we kind of had our foot in a bucket right off the bat. But it’s been getting progressively better, week to week, as the numbers (volume) have gotten bigger.”
That strong trend is apparently continuing, as KOA’s 425 franchised parks and 25 company-operated facilities are currently ahead of last year’s early reservation pace for the 4th of July weekend.
KOA, for its part, specifically monitors Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day for advance holiday reservations. “And the trend we’re seeing is that, especially on those holidays, people are slower to book,” said Gast. “They’re much more likely to wait until closer to the holiday. At one point, for instance, a couple of months out before Memorial Day, we were 12% under last year. That, of course, was very concerning to us – to be 12% under that early. And it got progressively better every week and we finished up 1% over last year on Memorial Day.”
Dustin Leonard got a call last week from a friend saying Meadow Lake Resort, a popular campground they use in Urbana, Ohio, had suddenly closed.
Leonard, 40, drove an hour from his Dayton home to the 20-acre resort and found no sign of the owners, Michael and Kathleen Cahill of Land ‘O Lakes, Fla., according to Tampabay.com.
Gone was the Cahills’ camper and the tractors and mowers they used to maintain the campground. The main office at the resort was even emptied – wicker chairs, pictures, refrigerator and all.
“It was like somebody pulled the rug right from beneath us,” said Leonard, who had prepaid to use the campground through October. “I was thinking, ‘How could they do this?’ ”
Leonard and dozens of other campers are confused and angry, saying they were duped out of thousands they paid to use the campground this year. They say they haven’t been able to contact the Cahills, who live in Land O’Lakes for most of the year but head north to the campground during the spring.
They say bank officials told them last week to leave their belongings at the campground until the matter is resolved and the Cahills are located.
In an effort to recoup their costs – Leonard pays $1,175 to use the campground from April until October, while year-round campers pay a monthly rent – some campers have filed complaints in small-claims court.
“You have a lot of business-class people who don’t have $1,200 to sink into that campsite,” said Leonard, who filed his complaint Friday.
In Land O’Lakes, no one answered the door Monday at the Cahills’ pale yellow house in Lake Padgett Estates. A black Ford truck with the words “Ridin Dirty” in the front window sat in the driveway across from a silver sedan.
The couple’s company, Cahill Properties LLC, is registered in Wyoming, but the owners list the Ohio resort as their mailing address, records show.
The Cahills purchased the campground for $500,000 in April 2008, according to a story Saturday in the Urbana Daily Citizen.
The Cahills received a 2009 campground license for the 235-campsite property on April 30, which expires on the same date in 2010, the story said.
The couple also failed to pay $4,121.19 in property taxes for 2008, the story said, citing the county treasurer. The amount has not yet been certified as delinquent.
A call to Urbana’s Citizens National Bank, which financed the mortgage, wasn’t returned Monday.
On its website, www.meadowlakeresorts.com, the resort boasts about its four-acre swimming lake, hiking trails, game room and DJ with live band dances.
For the past year, Leonard, his fiancee and their three children took their 39-foot camper to Meadow Lake. While there, they played mud volleyball, fished and cooked out.
Leonard said they are upset they won’t be able to go to the resort this summer.
“Between the tears,” he said, “they’re wondering what they’re going to do.”
Melissa Brown, who has used the camp for the past four years with her husband and son, said she spoke with Kathleen Cahill about two weeks ago and was told that Michael Cahill was headed back to Land O’Lakes, leaving his wife in Ohio.
Thinking the couple was splitting up, Brown and other campers made plans to help Kathleen Cahill maintain the property, offering to bring up equipment from their homes.
A friend called her last week saying the Cahills had packed up and left. Brown also filed a complaint in small-claims court.
“No one even bothered to tell us what’s going on,” she said. “They left us with nothing.”
Having sold out of reserved tent camping, Atlanta Motor Speedway has opened two new campgrounds to accommodate fans attending the speedway’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup night race on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5 and 6.
The Legends Reserved Tent Campground and Elliott Reserved Campground have been created by Atlanta Motor Speedway to meet surging camping demand for Atlanta’s first full weekend of night racing, according to paddocktalk.com, a racing news service.
“With a host of fans eager to camp at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend for our first NASCAR Sprint Cup night race, it was critical that we add additional camping spaces to meet fan demand,” said Atlanta Motor Speedway president and general manager Ed Clark. “Two groups specifically – handicap camping and tents and popups – sold out rather quickly, so we wanted to provide additional camping opportunities for fans with these needs.”
Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Elliott Reserved Campground is located directly behind the Elliott Grandstand overlooking Turn 3 and will include two additional rows of camping for handicap patrons. The Elliott Reserved Campground also features a large number of sites adjacent to handicap camping for additional fans. Each RV spot is approximately 45 feet long by 25 feet and costs $150.
Shaded by a tree grove, the Legends Reserved Tent Campground is located between Atlanta Motor Speedway’s main entrance and the Legends Campground. With more than 230 campsites with dimensions of 20 feet by 30 feet for $125, the Legends Reserved Tent Campground will be one of the most desired camping locations on the Atlanta Motor Speedway property, Clark predicted.
Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, S.C., says 97% of its 893 large RV campsites are booked for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
Located along the Atlantic Ocean beachfront, Ocean Lakes is located on 310 oceanfront acres and is the largest campground on the East Coast, as well as one of the largest in the U.S.
While many are predicting that tourism will be down significantly at beach resorts this summer, Ocean Lakes is seeing an increasing number of families turning to camping for their summer vacations, according to a news release.
In addition to being nearly sold out for Memorial Day weekend, Ocean Lakes is seeing an increase in reservations for the key summer months of June and July in 2009. Reservations for June 2009 versus June 2008 are up 23%, and for July 2009, reservations are up 34% over 2008.
More good news is emerging in the form of projected reservations. 2007 was a record year for Ocean Lakes and reservations for 2009 are already trending toward a 12% increase over 2007 reservations for campsite nights.
“Camping is an affordable and family-oriented vacation option,” said Barb Krumm, director of marketing and public relations for Ocean Lakes Family Campground. “It’s also a great way for a family to control their costs during vacation. Unlike other campgrounds, Ocean Lakes’ campsites are all inclusive – no add-on fees for additional people, pets, or even air conditioning.”
Ocean Lakes Family Campground, a subsidiary of The Jackson Cos., has received numerous awards for excellence. It is the 2008-2009 National “RV Park of the Year” and has received that honor from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) four times. In addition, Ocean Lakes is one of only 21 campgrounds and RV resorts around the United States to receive GuestRated.com’s overall “A” rating for 2008 by maintaining a 4.7 out of 5 rating. In 2006, Ocean Lakes was honored with the prestigious South Carolina Governor’s Cup for making a significant economic impact on South Carolina.
Ocean Lakes features nearly one mile of beachfront. It offers 3,447 sites, including 893 campsites which are large and pull-through to accommodate larger RVs. On an average seasonal day, Ocean Lakes has 25,000 to 30,000 guests enjoying the countless amenities that have made it a local favorite and a national vacation destination.
Ocean Lakes Family Campground is one of 16 subsidiaries of The Jackson Companies, a family-owned business that includes Prestwick Golf & Country Club, Ocean Lakes Properties, Crystal Lake Mobile Home Village, Ocean Lakes RV Center and the master-planned development SayeBrook.