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November 1, 2012

Bed-tax proposal being tweaked

MALONE — Compliance enforcement, control of the money and which projects get funding are still unknowns as Franklin County continues discussing a possible bed tax.

There is also no agreement on who would oversee the day-to-day operations, what related industries should be represented on a tourism advisory committee or the overall vision of the county’s tourism agenda.

A draft local law seeks State Legislature authorization to charge a 5-percent tax on each overnight-lodging stay, with the money going toward tourism promotion.

The county hopes to makes its formal request in January through Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru).

Franklin and Hamilton counties are the only two in the state with no bed tax at all. Clinton and Essex counties each have a 3-percent occupancy tax.

ENFORCEMENT

Franklin County’s draft law is based on an updated version of the law that Clinton County uses. It needs input from County Treasurer Bryon Varin, County Attorney Jonathan Miller and County Manager Thomas Leitz before the committee tweaks the final language and presents it to the County Legislature.

Leitz told the Occupancy Tax Committee Wednesday that he needed clarification on whether Varin would have the power to issue warrants on lodgers who don’t comply with the law so there is a mechanism in place to get the money.

“It would be the hammer, but that could be decided down the road,” said Legislator Timothy Burpoe (D-Saranac Lake), chairman of the Legislature’s Finance Committee.

Miller said he will research what other counties do in those situations, meet with Varin and provide an opinion at a meeting in November.

VACATION RENTALS

Another factor is whether vacation-rental properties should be subject to a bed tax since they are overnight visits within the county’s boundaries.

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