Press-Republican

December 27, 2012

Hearings set for bed-tax law

DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

MALONE — Franklin County has set public-hearing dates for its proposed bed-tax law.

Overnight visitors would be charged a 5 percent fee on their stay, money that would be collected by the Treasurer’s Office and disbursed by legislators based on recommendations from an advisory committee as part of overall tourism promotion.

The fee, also known as an occupancy tax, would apply to owners of vacation-rental properties, bed-and-breakfast establishments, cottages, condominiums, hotels and motels in Franklin County.

The Treasurer’s Office would also enforce the new law to ensure compliance from all lodging owners.

State OK would be required for the law to take effect.

The first public hearing is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Tupper Lake Village Offices, 53 Park St., with a second one at 7 the same night at the Harrietstown Town Hall, 39 Main St. in Saranac Lake.

The final meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, in the Legislature Chambers of the County Courthouse in Malone following the regular County Legislature meeting.

All hearings are open to the public.

ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Legislators appointed a seven-member committee earlier this year to study the feasibility of creating a bed tax.

The committee included five lodging owners, former Tourism Office Director Neil Seymour and a former BOCES superintendent.

The proposed Tourism Advisory Committee in the local law would be made up of two representatives from lodging/accommodations, one from an attraction, one from recreation, one from retail/restaurant, one tourist-rental-property owner and one from camping.

At least two of the committee members must be from the Saranac Lake-Tupper Lake area, according to the proposed law.

Three members would serve three years, three for two years and one for one year.

But the proposed law does not say how those staggered terms would be assigned.

An eighth person, called a tourism-promotion agent, would be a non-voting member and act as the clearinghouse for tourism efforts and information for the committee.

SEED MONEY

Existing tourism efforts are handled part time by Fawn Tatro, who also works part time for the County Industrial Development Agency and part time with the County District Attorney’s Office. 

The annual tourism-budget line of about $176,000 would be seed money for the committee to use until the annual bed-tax collection reaches $350,000.

Any money above that threshold would reduce the county contribution dollar for dollar until the bed-tax kitty reaches $526,000.

From there, the county-budget contribution would be zero.

Email Denise A. Raymo: draymo@pressrepaublican.com