TUPPER LAKE — Lodging owners here say it is ridiculous for Franklin County to force them to collect a bed tax or face jail, yet give them no say in how the money is spent.
Legislators say that if the State Legislature allows the law and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs it, the county would institute a 5 percent bed tax on overnight guests.
The revenue would go strictly toward tourism promotion and could generate $350,000 to $400,000 a year.
If the revenue stream continues at that same level or higher, the plan is to let bed-tax revenue pay for all county-tourism expenses instead of being charged through property taxes.
MAROUN WILL OPPOSE
But hotel and motel owners who turned out for a second series of public hearings in Tupper Lake Wednesday evening say they don’t want the bed tax at all. They fear it would drive away their already shrinking stream of low- to moderate-income customers.
And their elected representative went on record, saying he won’t support a bed tax if it comes up for a vote before the County Legislature.
“I promised them I’d vote against it,” said Legislator Paul Maroun (R-Tupper Lake), who is also the village mayor there.
Lodging owners said that if the bed tax should be forced on them, they either want some of the proceeds turned back to them to spend how they see fit or want a large portion of what’s collected targeted for Tupper Lake tourism promotions and activities.
“You want us 25 people who are owners of businesses to collect all that money to fix your problems in the county?” said Jay Chojnowski, owner of the Red Top Inn.
“You only target a few owners, yet get a half a million dollars. If you want to split it between us, I’d kiss your (butt),” he said, which brought a laugh from the crowd of about 12 people.