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March 25, 2014

Bed-tax bill goes to state lawmakers again

MALONE — Franklin County is again awaiting word on a request to the State Legislature to implement a 5 percent occupancy fee on overnight visitors.

Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) submitted bills in their respective houses of government in January after the County Legislature passed a resolution, by a vote of 6-1, seeking approval to collect the new tax.

Legislator Paul Maroun (R-Tupper Lake), who works for Little and is mayor of the Village of Tupper Lake, voted against the measure.

He said many of the lodging owners in his constituency oppose a bed tax, “but if the governor indicates that he would sign it, I’d reconsider and possibly vote for it.

“I am willing to look at it, but for the last two years, the governor and Senate coalition have said ‘no new taxes,’” Maroun said. “I think it’s a waste of our time and energy if he’s not going to sign it.” 

WAIT AND SEE

The fee would be charged on each overnight stay at vacation-rental properties, bed-and-breakfasts, cottages, condominiums, hotels and motels.

Senate Bill 5742 is before the Investigations and Government Operations Committee, and Assembly Bill 79 is in front of the Ways and Means Committee.

County Legislature Chairman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) said all he and his colleagues can do now is wait to see if state leadership approves the idea.

“We’ll see what they do by the time they recess at the end of June,” he said. “That’s when we’ll know if we make it or break it.”

‘BED TAX NEEDED’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo must also sign any new legislation, and the county’s bed-tax plan got a big endorsement when the co-chairs of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council formalized their support in a letter to the governor three weeks ago.

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