Chapter 4.09
HOTEL-MOTEL ROOM TAX

Sections:

4.09.010    Definitions.

4.09.020    Tax levy.

4.09.025    Bed tax grant distribution.

4.09.030    Operators exempt from room tax collection.

4.09.035    Other room tax exemptions.

4.09.040    Registration for tax collection.

4.09.050    Reporting basis and tax collection.

4.09.060    Prohibited acts and penalties.

4.09.070    Procedures, forms, and appeals.

4.09.080    Tax reporting requirements.

4.09.090    Penalties, estimated taxes, administrative fees and interest.

4.09.100    Recovery of taxes.

4.09.110    Refund of room tax.

4.09.120    Record keeping – Investigation.

4.09.130    Criminal liability.

4.09.140    Confidentiality.

4.09.150    Rules and regulations.

4.09.160    No cause of action against the City.

4.09.170    Severability.

4.09.180    Prospective application only.

4.09.010 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following words and phrases have the following meanings:

“Director” means the Chief Financial Officer or his/her designee.

“Guest” or “renter” means an individual, firm, partnership, joint venture, club, fraternal organization, association, corporation, estate, trust, receiver, or any other entity or group who pays rent for a room for a term of less than thirty consecutive days.

“Operator” means a person who furnishes, offers for rent, or otherwise makes available a room, whether acting directly or through an agent or employee.

“Permanent resident” means any occupant who has or shall have the right of occupancy of any room or rooms for at least thirty consecutive days.

“Rent” means the consideration, whether received in money or otherwise, charged for occupancy of a room and any equipment, like but not limited to rollaway beds and cribs including all receipts, cash, credits, and property or services of any kind or nature.

“Room” means any structure or portion of a structure, permanent or temporary, fixed or mobile, in which a person, for money or other consideration, may obtain lodging, dwelling, or sleeping accommodations. This term includes hotels, apartment hotels, motels, tourist homes, houses or courts, lodging houses, inns, roominghouses, hostels, trailers, bed and breakfasts, dormitories, and any other facility, structure, or room of whatever name where space for lodging, dwelling, or sleeping may be secured for consideration. “Room” does not include any hospital, self-contained and powered motor home, tent or tent space, medical clinic, sanitarium, or nursing home; or any student dormitory operated by the University of Alaska.

“Tax” means the room tax as levied under this chapter. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.020 Tax levy.

A.    There is hereby levied a tax on the use and privilege of renting a room within the City equal to eight percent of the daily rent charged for each room rented for each twenty-four-hour period, or any portion of that period. This tax is imposed upon all room rentals unless the rental is specifically exempted herein or by other applicable law. The tax is not imposed upon a permanent resident of a room.

B.    It is the purpose and intent of the tax levied under this chapter to raise revenues. To that end, the scope of the tax levied shall be broadly interpreted and exemptions shall be allowed only when the room rental clearly falls within an exemption defined in this chapter. The burden of proving an exemption is on the person claiming the exemption.

C.    The tax levied under this chapter is to raise revenues primarily for the purpose of funding services for the promotion of economic development, including the tourist industry, and for the funding of services for the general public.

D.    All taxes imposed by this chapter are due and payable at the time of rental and are delinquent if not paid when due. The tax levied in this section shall be paid in addition to any and all other taxes and charges.

E.    The obligation for the payment of the room tax is upon the guest. Every operator providing rentals taxable under this chapter shall collect the taxes imposed by this chapter from the guest at the time of rental and shall transmit the same to the City of North Pole in accordance with the reporting requirements in this chapter. (Ord. 14-14 § 2, 2014; Ord. 10-07 § 2, 2010; Ord. 09-14 § 2, 2009; Ord. 09-08 § 2, 2009; Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.025 Bed tax grant distribution.

A.    Bed tax grant distribution amounts are based on the prior year’s audited financials; there will be an administration fee of twenty-five percent of the total bed tax collected by the City annually. Distribution of the remaining bed tax revenues shall be at the discretion of the City Council, which shall distribute the remaining revenues on an annual basis to approved organizations for the prescribed purposes, so long as the organization’s purpose and objectives align with NPMC 4.09.020(C) and they have submitted the application before the cutoff date.

B.    Any recipient of funding under this chapter shall execute a contract with the City setting forth terms and conditions necessary to enable the City to assure compliance with the purposes and limitations under this section.

C.    Organizations and agencies will be required to report to the City of North Pole that funds were used exclusively for the purposes stated in the grant application. Ten percent of these appropriations will be withheld until the complete report is filed with the Chief Financial Officer. Prior to receiving any funding under this section, applicants must agree to reimburse the City the full amount of any grant proceeds not used for the purposes stated on the application.

D.    The City Council establishes the following grant guidelines and process for the selection, application and distribution of bed tax funds:

1.    The City of North Pole stipulates that applicants must provide and indicate to the Council on the appropriate forms supplied by the City of North Pole the following information:

a.    If an applicant has the disbursement responsibility for other organizations, they must list all organizations that they represent.

b.    The applicant must complete the application in its entirety and may submit financial information in their format including:

i.    Balance sheet for the last fiscal year.

ii.    Income and expense statement for the last fiscal year.

iii.    Applicant’s projected budget for the upcoming year.

iv.    Wage and salary information for employees for current and upcoming year.

c.    An applicant must answer questions in the order provided.

2.    A successful applicant is required to report to the City of North Pole how bed tax funds were spent. Ten percent of these appropriations will be withheld until a report is filed with the Chief Financial Officer.

a.    All organizations receiving bed tax funds must have completed the bed tax grant report (if applicable) for prior funds distributed, before any additional funds are distributed.

b.    An organization applying for bed tax funds must be in good standing with the City of North Pole and have completed the bed tax report for the last period of bed tax funds distributed.

3.    The City of North Pole bed tax grants cannot support requests for the following:

a.    Loans, deficits, or debt reduction.

b.    Endowments.

c.    Scholarships.

d.    Health and social services activities.

e.    Entertainment cost or alcoholic beverages.

f.    Lobbying.

g.    Legal claims against the City of North Pole.

4.    Grant Award Criteria.

a.    Show how use of the funds will contribute significantly to the growth and promotion of the City of North Pole.

b.    Show how the grant monies will be used to supplement a successful ongoing program of activities or a new program that needs initial support to accomplish its stated goals.

5.    Grant applications will be available from the Office of the City Clerk and must be received at the Office of the City Clerk no later than close of business (5:00 p.m.) on the last business day of October of each year.

6.    Bed tax grant amounts will be allocated by the North Pole City Council no later than December 31st of the year the applications are due.

7.    Scoring Proposals from Applicants.

a.    The Mayor shall create a committee to review all applications and give recommendations to the Council for allocation amounts.

i.    Committee members may not serve on a board or have a controlling interest in any of the organizations applying for City of North Pole bed tax funds.

b.    All applicants who have turned in their applications on time and have completely filled them out will be given no more than ten minutes to pitch their proposal and answer questions.

c.    Each individual scorer will be given only one hundred points to allocate to the desired applicants. Once all applicants have presented, each applicant’s score will be averaged. The point value given to an applicant shall be the percentage of the total bed tax grant amount to be awarded, after the City’s administration fee of twenty-five percent.

d.    The Bed Tax Selection Committee shall meet on the fourth Tuesday of November to hear proposals from applicants. (Ord. 15-23 § 2, 2015; Ord. 15-15 § 2, 2015; amended during 2015 reformat; Ord. 14-14 § 2, 2014)

4.09.030 Operators exempt from room tax collection.

The following operators are exempt from the collection of the room tax: An operator who is exempt from Federal income taxation under 26 USC 501(c)(3), and whose income from room rentals is not an unrelated business taxable income under 26 USC 512, is exempt from collecting the tax levied by this chapter. This exemption, however, is not effective until the operator registers with the City as required by this chapter and presents evidence satisfactory to the Director that the operator meets the standards required for this exemption. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.035 Other room tax exemptions.

The following rents are exempt from the room tax levied in this chapter:

A.    Rent paid directly to the operator using a purchase order or other means of direct payment by a Federal, State, or local government. Government employees traveling on a reimbursement basis are not exempt from taxation and shall be charged the eight percent tax.

B.    Rent paid by a foreign government which is exempt from taxation by law or by treaty on behalf of a guest who is an officer or employee of the foreign government.

C.    Rentals by religious and charitable organizations as defined in subsections 501(c)(1), (3), or (4) of the Internal Revenue Code that are rented for the conduct of regular religious or charitable functions and activities and not for the support or maintenance of the general membership or for communal living. Applications for this exemption must include an exemption certificate issued by the Internal Revenue Service.

D.    Rent paid by a permanent resident as defined in this chapter. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.040 Registration for tax collection.

A.    It is unlawful to engage in business as an operator without obtaining a certificate of registration under this section. An operator shall display its certificate of registration prominently at its place of business.

B.    An operator shall obtain a certificate of registration issued by the Director before engaging in room rentals. An operator must apply to the Director for a certificate of registration on a form prescribed by the Director. A current valid business license shall be a prerequisite to receiving a certificate of registration.

C.    A certificate of registration shall bear the name of the operator, the address of the registered place of business, and the operator’s form of business organization.

D.    The certificate of registration is not assignable and nontransferable. The operator shall promptly surrender the certificate to the Director when the operator ceases to do business at the location named on the certificate. An operator shall submit a new or updated application for other changes, such as business name changes, owner/operator changes, change in business organization, and/or primary contact person. The Director, after receipt of the application, will determine whether a new certificate of registration shall be issued which may bear the same registration number. If the business is continued at the same location but there is a change in its name or form of organization, the operator making such change shall, in addition to submitting a new application, surrender his old certificate to the Director.

E.    The Director may revoke a certificate of registration if an operator fails to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter.

F.    An operator shall not rent a room subject to the tax imposed in this chapter if the operator does not possess a valid certificate of registration, or has had its certificate of registration revoked. An operator making room rentals subject to this tax without a valid certificate of registration, or under a revoked registration, is subject to all penalties provided in this chapter, including, but not limited to, an injunction preventing the operator from engaging in further rental activity until the operator obtains a valid certificate of registration. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.050 Reporting basis and tax collection.

A.    The operator shall report and pay the tax on the same basis, cash or accrual, as the operator uses for reporting Federal income tax.

B.    All operators shall add the tax herein imposed to the room price or charge and shall show the tax as a separate and distinct item.

C.    Upon collection by the operator of the taxes imposed herein, title to the collected taxes vests in the City.

D.    It is the duty of every operator engaged or continuing in business in the City to keep and preserve suitable records of all rentals and such other books or accounts as may be necessary to determine the amount of tax for the collection of which the operator is liable hereunder. It shall be the duty of every such person to keep and preserve all rent invoices for a period of six years. All such books and invoices shall be made available to the Director for examination upon request.

E.    For the purpose of ascertaining the correctness of a report, or for the purposes of determining the amount of tax collected or which should have been collected by any operator, the Director may conduct investigations and/or hearings concerning any matters covered by this chapter, and may examine any relevant books, papers, records, or memoranda of any operator, and may require the attendance of an operator or any officer, agent or employee of the operator.

F.    Any person acquiring an ownership interest in an ongoing business or the accounts receivable of a business, whether by purchase, assignment, foreclosure, relinquishment, or otherwise, is liable for the payment of taxes, penalties, and interest accruing and unpaid to the City on account of the operation of the business by the former owner. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.060 Prohibited acts and penalties.

In addition to other acts and omissions prohibited by this chapter:

A.    No guest shall fail or refuse to pay the tax when it is due and payable to an operator.

B.    No operator shall fail or refuse to make and file the reports required by this chapter.

C.    No operator shall fail or refuse to pay the tax to the City.

D.    No operator shall advertise or state to the public or to any guest, directly or indirectly, that the tax or any part of it will be assumed or absorbed by the operator, that the tax will not be added to the rental, or that it will be refunded. No operator shall absorb, fail to add, or refund the tax or any part of it.

E.    No operator shall fail to separately state the tax to the guest.

F.    No person shall make any false statement to an operator or to the Director which is material in determining whether a rental is taxable under this chapter.

G.    No operator shall fail to apply for a certificate of registration, fail to furnish the data required for issuance of a certificate of registration, fail to display or surrender the certificate of registration as required by this chapter, or attempt to assign or transfer such certificate.

H.    No operator shall attribute room revenue to a location or entity that is exempt from reporting under this chapter for the purpose of evading the City room tax. Violation of this provision may result, in addition to all other penalties imposed in this chapter, in the Director’s removal of the reporting exemption from any or all of the operator’s locations, and the imposition of periodic tax reports from any or all of the operator’s locations.

I.    In addition to all other penalties prescribed in this chapter, an operator who violates any provision of this chapter is subject to a penalty of $1,000 (one thousand dollars), revocation of the certificate of registration, and an order preventing the operator from engaging in further rental activity.

J.    Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.070 Procedures, forms, and appeals.

A.    Every room rental made within the City, unless explicitly exempted by this chapter or a subsequent ordinance, shall be presumed to be subject to the room tax imposed hereunder in any action to enforce the provisions of this chapter.

B.    The Director shall adopt and amend procedures, regulations, fees, and forms for the administration of this chapter, shall adopt guidelines for the determination of the taxability of transactions, and may rule on specific transactions upon request. The parties to that rental may rely upon the written ruling on a specific room rental unless essential facts were not provided to the Director or the ruling is clearly contrary to the provisions of this chapter.

C.    Claims filed and decisions made under this section are subject to the following appeal process:

1.    An operator may appeal to the City Mayor any estimated tax, penalties, costs, fees, or other decision under this chapter made by the Director. Any appeal must be filed within thirty days after the notice of any decision is mailed to the operator. The failure to appeal a decision to the Director renders the decision final.

2.    The appeal must state the legal and factual basis for the appeal and include all written evidence relevant to the appeal within the appellant’s possession. If the appeal raises relevant questions of fact, the City Mayor or designee shall conduct a hearing. At the hearing, the parties shall have the right to present testimony and cross-examine witnesses. The Mayor or designee shall then issue a written or recorded decision that includes findings of fact.

3.    An administrative appeal decision by the City Mayor is a final decision that shall be enforced under this chapter unless stayed by court order or by agreement of the City and appellant. The City Mayor’s final decision may be appealed to Superior Court in the fourth judicial district as provided by State law.

D.    The Director shall take all steps necessary and appropriate to administer this chapter. Such steps may include the authority to contract services for collection of delinquent accounts, to compromise and abate penalties and interest, or to negotiate and enter into payment plans for delinquent taxes, penalties and interest. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.080 Tax reporting requirements.

A.    Every operator possessing a valid certificate of registration shall file a monthly report not later than the last day of the month following the month being reported upon. A report must be filed even if it indicates no taxable rentals have been made and no taxes have been collected.

B.    The operator shall remit, with the monthly return, the total amount of tax due for the month for which the return is filed.

C.    An operator whose tax liability is always less than $1,000 (one thousand dollars) a month and who, for one year, has timely remitted the taxes and timely filed the reports as required by this chapter, may file with the Director a written request to remit taxes and file reports quarterly. The Director shall evaluate the operator’s compliance with this chapter and shall, based on that evaluation, either approve or deny the operator’s request. If the Director approves the request, then the operator shall file a quarterly report not later than the fifteenth day of the month following the quarter being reported upon. Quarterly reports shall be filed for the calendar quarters ending March 31st, June 30th, September 30th, and December 31st. A report must be filed even if it indicates no taxable rentals have been made and no taxes have been collected. The operator shall remit to the City, with the quarterly report, the total amount of tax due for the quarter for which the report is filed.

D.    If the fifteenth day of the month is a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal or City holiday, the due date shall be extended until the next business day.

E.    A report is considered filed if it has been delivered to and received by the City’s collection office.

F.    All reports shall include at least the following:

1.    The amount of all room rentals made during the reporting period, excluding room tax.

2.    All exempt room rentals made during the reporting period. Copies of exempt room rental documentation shall be included with the report, except that documentation on monthly room rentals is not required.

3.    The gross taxable rentals.

4.    The total taxes due (eight percent of the gross taxable rentals).

5.    Such other information and supporting documents as the Director may require. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.090 Penalties, estimated taxes, administrative fees and interest.

A.    An operator who fails to file a return, whether taxes are due or not, as required by this chapter shall incur penalties. An operator who fails to collect taxes shall incur penalties. In addition to penalties incurred, the operator shall pay all collected or uncollected taxes as identified by the operator or estimated by the City. A person engaged in business as an operator with or without a valid certificate of registration issued under this chapter is personally liable for all taxes that should have been collected and remitted to the City. Penalties shall be imposed based on the date the return is received after the due date according to the following schedule:

Month Filing For

Report/Remittance Due Date

Late Report/Late Remittance Penalty – $25.00 or up to the maximum rate allowable by law .00875 of sales tax due, whichever is greater.

Additional Late Report/Late Remittance Penalty – $50.00 or up to the maximum rate allowable by law .00875 of sales tax due, whichever is greater.

January

February 28

March 1 – March 31

April 1

February

March 31

April 1 – April 30

May 1

March

April 30

May 1 – May 31

June 1

April

May 31

June 1 – June 30

July 1

May

June 30

July 1 – July 31

August 1

June

July 31

August 1 – August 31

September 1

July

August 31

September 1 – September 30

October 1

August

September 30

October 1 – October 31

November 1

September

October 31

November 1 – November 30

December 1

October

November 30

December 1 – December 31

January 1

November

December 31

January 1 – January 31

February 1

December

January 31

February 1 – February 28

March 1

1.    Complete returns and full remittance delinquent less than thirty days shall be charged a late fee of $25 (twenty-five dollars) or up to the maximum interest rate allowed to by law, whichever is greater, in addition to the total amount due. Operators filing incomplete returns will incur an additional penalty of $15 (fifteen dollars).

2.    Complete returns and full remittance thirty to sixty days past due will incur a late fee of $50 (fifty dollars) or up to the maximum interest rate allowed to by law, whichever is greater, in addition to the total amount due. Operators filing incomplete returns will incur an additional penalty of $15 (fifteen dollars).

3.    Returns and full remittance sixty-one days past due will incur a reoccurring monthly fee of $50 (fifty dollars) in addition to all previous fees, interest, and penalties. Operators failing to file complete returns and full remittance will be subject to revocation of their business license, and a lien against the operator’s property or a class A misdemeanor, upon Council approval.

4.    An operator is subject to an additional $1,000 (one thousand dollars) penalty if the operator fails to file a report for ninety days or more, fails to file a return, fails to remit taxes for ninety days or more, operates without a valid certificate of registration, or in any other way does not comply with the requirements of this chapter.

B.    Business licenses will be automatically revoked, and businesses will be served with a cease and desist order by a law enforcement officer empowered by the City of North Pole, when sales tax returns are ninety days delinquent. A new business license will be issued upon full payment of all taxes, penalties and fees.

C.    Businesses who have chronic late returns, defined as returns that are sixty days delinquent twice in a calendar year, will have their business license revoked and will be served with a cease and desist order by a law enforcement officer empowered by the City. A new business license will be issued upon full payment of all taxes, penalties and fees.

D.    Businesses who have habitually late sales tax returns, defined as sales tax returns that are sixty days delinquent three times in a calendar year, will have their business license revoked and will be served with a cease and desist order by a law enforcement officer empowered by the City. Criminal theft charges will be filed against the business owners and/or other responsible parties pursuant to the applicable North Pole ordinances or Alaska statutes.

E.    The business owner shall have two business days from the date of service of the cease and desist (order/revocation) of the business owner’s license, to do business in the City. This request for an administrative hearing shall set forth all grounds relied upon by the business owner to contest the cease and desist order/revocation order. Any grounds not set forth in the request for hearing shall be considered waived. The hearing shall take place before the Mayor as soon as is practicable. The hearing shall be conducted and a decision rendered before the business license shall be considered revoked. The Mayor may rule upon the hearing request verbally at the conclusion of the hearing or in writing, at the Mayor’s discretion.

1.    The business owner shall have ten days from verbal or written notice of the Mayor of the City of North Pole’s decision in which to appeal any adverse decision to the Superior Court. The filing of such an appeal shall not stay the business license revocation.

2.    All cease and desist orders shall notify the business owner of the hearing rights and procedures set forth herein.

F.    Estimated Taxes. If the City is unable to ascertain the tax due from an operator because the operator failed to file a return, transmit collected taxes, collect taxes, keep accurate books, allow inspection, or has falsified records, the City may make an estimate of the tax due based on any evidence in its possession. Notice of the estimate of taxes due shall be furnished to the operator and shall become final for the purpose of determining liability of the operator thirty days after the decision is mailed to the operator, unless the operator earlier files an accurate return or files an appeal.

G.    In addition to other penalties imposed in this chapter, an operator engaging in any prohibited act(s) is liable for any administrative fees, outside collection agency fees, attorney fees, and other necessary costs incurred by the City or its agent(s) in the collection of taxes owed under this chapter.

H.    Simple interest at a maximum rate of ten and one-half percent per year, or a lesser rate if required by State law, shall accrue on all delinquent taxes, not including penalty and administrative fees, from the date due until paid in full.

I.    The City will apply payment of delinquent taxes first to the payment of all administrative and collection costs, then to penalties, then to the payment of unpaid interest that has accrued on the taxes, and then to the payment of the tax principal. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.100 Recovery of taxes.

A.    In addition to the administrative procedures provided in this chapter, taxes due but not paid may be recovered by the City through a civil action against the operator or guest.

B.    The tax, penalty, administrative fees, collection fees, and interest imposed by this chapter shall constitute a lien in favor of the City upon all the assets or property of the operator who is liable for such taxes. The lien arises upon delinquency and continues until the liability for the amount is satisfied either through execution, foreclosure sale or other legal means. This lien is not valid as against a mortgagee, pledgee, purchaser or judgment creditor until notice of the lien is filed in the office of the recorder for the Fairbanks recording district. After such filing, the lien is superior to all other liens except those excluded by Federal or State law.

C.    The amount of tax may be determined and assessed for six years after the date a report was filed or should have been filed with the City. The City may bring no civil action for the collection of such tax after the end of the six-year period except that the City may file an action for taxes and penalties due for those report periods that are the subject of an assessment or other administrative decision mailed to the operator within the six-year period. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.110 Refund of room tax.

A.    Right to Application for Refund. If, through error or otherwise, an operator pays the City room taxes to which the City is not entitled by law, the operator may, within one year from the date the tax was due, apply to the Director for a refund. The burden of proving the overpayment made to the City is on the operator claiming or requesting a refund.

B.    Exclusive Procedure. The procedure set forth in this section is the sole and exclusive procedure whereby a refund may be made, and is a prerequisite to bringing a suit to recover any taxes paid. Any person who has not timely filed an application for a refund as provided herein shall be deemed to have waived any right to such refund. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.120 Record keeping – Investigation.

A.    Each operator shall maintain the following records for a period of six years after filing:

1.    Tax reports;

2.    All guest registers and all other accounting records reflecting and documenting all room rental activity;

3.    Rental receipts; and

4.    All documentary evidence collected which supports any provided exemption from the tax. For example, an operator seeking an exemption for a permanent resident shall keep on file, available for inspection, a lease, contract or other document detailing the terms of the occupancy and permanency.

B.    The City or its designee may examine and inspect at reasonable hours all books, records and other documents kept by an operator related to the provisions of this chapter.

C.    The Director may conduct random audits of operator’s monthly reports by examining any of the records and materials specified in subsection (A) of this section and other data deemed necessary.

D.    For the purpose of ascertaining the correctness of a return or for the purpose of determining the amount of tax collected or which should have been collected by any person, the Director or Mayor may hold investigations and hearings concerning any matters covered by this chapter and may examine any relevant books, papers, records or memoranda of any such person, and may require the attendance of such person, or any officer or employee of such person. The Mayor shall have the power to administer oaths to such persons. The Mayor shall issue all formal subpoenas to compel attendance or to require production of relevant books, papers, records or memoranda.

E.    All subpoenas issued under the terms of this chapter may be served by any person. The fees of witnesses for attendance and trial shall be the same as the fees of witnesses before the Superior Court, such fees to be paid when the witness is excused from further attendance. When a witness is subpoenaed at the instance of any party to any such proceeding, the Mayor may require that the cost of service of the subpoena and the fee of the witness be borne by the party at whose instance the witness is summoned. In such case the Mayor may, at his discretion, require a deposit to cover the cost of such service and witness fees. A subpoena issued shall be served in the same manner as a subpoena issued out of a court of record.

F.    The Superior Court, upon the application of the City, is empowered to compel obedience to such subpoena and compel the attendance of witnesses, the production of relevant books, papers, records or memoranda before the City Attorney or any of his duly authorized representatives in the same manner and extent as witnesses may be compelled to obey the subpoenas and order of the court. For purposes of this section, the term “witness,” in addition to any person covered under the terms of this chapter, shall include any person or entity with knowledge or information relevant to rentals made under this chapter.

G.    The Mayor, or any party in an investigation or hearing before the Mayor, may cause the deposition of witnesses residing within or outside the State to be taken in the manner prescribed by law for like depositions in civil actions in courts of this State, and to that end compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of relevant books, papers, records or memoranda. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.130 Criminal liability.

Any person, firm, co-partnership, corporation, or director or agent of the operator violating any of the provisions of this chapter or failing or refusing to comply with a lawful request or demand of the Mayor or Director authorized under this chapter is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.140 Confidentiality.

A.    Generally, documents in the possession of the City are available to the public for inspection and copying. If, however, an operator makes a showing satisfactory to the Director that a report, record, application or other information submitted by an operator would, if made public, divulge information entitled to protection as trade secrets under State law, the City will treat the record, report, application, or other information as confidential. This showing requires, but is not limited to, the owner’s certification under oath that:

1.    Public disclosure would tend to affect adversely the operator’s competitive position; and

2.    The records, reports, application or other information submitted would divulge sales figures, processes, techniques or other financial data of the operator that are entitled to protection as trade secrets under State law.

B.    It is unlawful for any person to divulge to another any documents or information obtained from any records or documents filed with the City that have been determined to be confidential unless specifically permitted by State law or this chapter.

C.    The Director shall safely keep all records and information deemed confidential under this section secure from public inspection and release. The Director may, six years after the filing date, destroy the records.

D.    Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, the City may, even for records deemed confidential:

1.    Compile and publish statistical evidence concerning the data submitted, provided no identification of particular reports deemed confidential is made.

2.    Release the operator’s names, owners, mailing addresses and filing status to the public. “Filing status” for this purpose includes whether the operator is exempt, delinquent, or current in payment of taxes.

3.    Provide the records to an auditor, collection agency or attorney, acting as an agent of the City, for their review and use in performing services for the City.

4.    Exchange confidential information about an operator with another jurisdiction, which has a similar tax, if that other jurisdiction has similar provisions protecting the confidentiality of the operator’s records.

5.    Release records with the permission of the operator.

6.    Use such records in a criminal or civil action brought to enforce the terms of this chapter.

E.    Hearings conducted by the Director are public. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.150 Rules and regulations.

A.    The Mayor is empowered to enact rules and regulations to implement the sales tax levied under this chapter.

B.    The Director shall take all lawful and necessary actions to administer this chapter including, but not limited to, adopting and revising procedures, fees, and written guidelines for the determination of the taxability of room rentals.

C.    The Director may also take other lawful actions to administer this chapter including, but not limited to, issuing written determinations of the taxability of specific room rentals upon request and contracting services for collection of delinquent accounts.

D.    With the approval of the Director, the Finance Department staff shall prepare, implement, and revise forms for the administration of this chapter. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.160 No cause of action against the City.

The provisions of this chapter are enacted for the sole purpose of providing guidance to the City administration for uniform collection procedures. Any failure on the part of the City to follow the provisions of the chapter shall not:

A.    Waive any rights of the City of North Pole;

B.    Give rise to any cause of action on behalf of the operator or taxpayer against the City of North Pole. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.170 Severability.

If any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this chapter is held unconstitutional or in violation of law, then that holding shall not affect the validity of the remainder of this chapter. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)

4.09.180 Prospective application only.

The penalties, estimated taxes, administrative fees, and other provisions set forth herein shall have prospective effect only. Prior decisions imposing penalties, fees, interest, and estimating taxes shall not be amended nor adjustments or refunds allowed based on these provisions. (Ord. 09-03 § 2, 2009)