Co-chairs Garry Douglas, who is also executive director of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, and Clarkson University President Anthony Collins wrote Cuomo that tourism is “one of the most important facets of the North Country economy,” but it needs more investment like a bed tax in order to develop.
They said Franklin County is one of a handful of counties in New York without an occupancy tax, yet — with the Adirondack Mountains and its close proximity to Canada — it is one of the counties in the North Country “with the greatest untapped potential for growth in its tourism economy.”
Douglas and Collins said the Development Council “has unanimously endorsed approval of a long-overdue occupancy tax in Franklin County,” adding that it fits nicely with its overall economic-development strategies for the region.
Should Franklin County get the OK, the County Treasurer’s Office would be expected to guide owners in how to collect the fees by creating an instruction manual, then the office would enforce the tax rules and take in the money.
Legislators believe it would generate $350,000 to $400,000 a year.
The money collected would be used exclusively to promote tourism, so county tax dollars would no longer be used.
The county set aside $223,865 to fund the Tourism Office in the 2014 county budget.
The legislature created its Tourism Advisory Committee to investigate the details of implementing a bed tax.
It is made up of representatives from tourist-home, inn, cottage, condominium, vacation-rental ownership, the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, retail/restaurant owners, accommodations, recreational-business owners, camping sites and the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort.
Members have been meeting monthly since last fall to familiarize themselves with existing tourism promotions and campaigns and to determine the direction tourism initiatives should take.
The committee would also decide how bed-tax money is spent, pending final approval of the County Legislature.
Email Denise A. Raymo:firstname.lastname@example.org