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Updated 1:04 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13
By Eric Heinz
In a turn of events, the city of San Clemente will not seek to initiate a recount of Measure OO, which was intended to raise the transient occupancy tax (TOT or hotel tax) for nightly rates in San Clemente from 10 percent to 13 percent. It failed to pass by eight votes.
At the Tuesday, Dec. 6, City Council meeting, the city voted to do a recount, but on Monday, Dec. 12, Neal Kelley of the Orange County Registrar of Voters said the city had decided to cancel it.
Kelley said the city could not initiate the recount as an entity but had planned to amend their decision to submit as a voter to comply with state law.
Kelley also said the city will not be charged for a recount, which could have cost between $18,000 and $40,000.
At the Dec. 6 meeting, Councilman Tim Brown said if Measure OO had passed, the increase in taxes would have provided between $600,000 and $1 million to fund three and a half to four more Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies for San Clemente, although the ballot measure wasn’t really advertised to do so. No candidate during the election supported or opposed it.
City Clerk Joanne Baade said the Orange County Registrar of Voters has only had one overturned election due to a recount since 2000, and that election wouldn’t have been overturned if it occurred a year later as certain election code had changed.
The vote to initiate the recount was 3-1-1 with Councilwoman Lori Donchak opposing, saying she trusted the results and spending the money on the recount likely won’t overturn the election. Mayor Bob Baker abstained.
City manager James Makshanoff said city officials contemplated amending the recount proposal for an individual from the city to submit the request, but he said they decided against it.
“We thought about and contemplated having an individual submit the recount request, but we didn’t feel that was appropriate,” Makshanoff said, adding it would be about
City attorney Scott Smith said the issue could be brought back during a general or special election.