Press-Republican

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May 3, 2013

Franklin County OKs bed-tax law

(Continued)

MALONE —

Once that threshold is met, the county’s obligation would decrease dollar for dollar until bed-tax income funds all tourism initiatives.

Maroun said he doubts Cuomo will sign the law, due to past the governor’s comments about allowing no new taxes to be created.

But proponents say that if Cuomo makes bed tax a home-rule issue, local legislators would make the decision, not Albany.

Maroun said the policy gives the treasurer the power to throw those in jail who do not comply, and he questioned enforcement of vacation-property owners because there is no way to tell how often or how long a space is rented.

He said County Treasurer Bryon Varin would likely ask for more staff to implement and track bed tax, which would be an added expense at a time when the county is trying to save money.

‘MORE STAFF NEEDED’

Following the meeting, Varin said, “Paul was right. I will ask for more staff” because of the additional duties required of his office, such as creating a compliance handbook for lodging owners, forms for their use, training sessions, compliance site visits, accountability, traceability, random audits and more.

His office would have to track at least 117 establishments, Varin said, and existing staff is not enough. 

Legislator Marc “Tim” Lashomb (R-Malone) said he was undecided on the issue but supports the bed tax now because tourism “is a big driver for sales tax,” which would bring relief to taxpayers since every dollar spent has a much larger return in the community.

In a news release, the Franklin County Chamber Alliance — representing chambers of commerce in Malone, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake who initially pushed legislators to create a bed tax three years ago — said the law, if approved by state lawmakers, “enables this county to leverage significant investment capital overseen by a private-sector board for marketing this region’s greatest asset, tourism.”

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com

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