Press-Republican

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January 8, 2013

Linking bed tax, sales tax

MALONE — The promise of higher sales-tax revenue is also spurring support for instituting a bed tax in Franklin County.

Potential income and what to do about waterfront-property owners who rent rooms out to cover taxes will likely be discussed at public hearings this week and next as the county looks at charging a 5 percent fee on all overnight visitors.

Two of the hearings are Thursday. The first is at 5:30 p.m. at the Tupper Lake Village Offices on Lake Street, followed at 7 p.m. at the Harrietstown Town Hall in the Village of Saranac Lake.

The third public hearing is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, in the fourth-floor Legislative Chambers in the County Courthouse in Malone.

DRAFT LAW READY

If the county is successful in petitioning the State Legislature for permission to institute the 5 percent occupancy tax, the County Treasurer’s Office would collect the money and enforce the law to make sure all lodging owners participate.

The money would be earmarked for tourism, and an appointed committee would then recommend to the County Legislature how the money should be spent.

A part-time tourism-promotion agent would carry out the projects once approved by legislators.

If tourism numbers climb, officials say, sales-tax figures would also grow.

A committee was formed to create the local law, and a draft was submitted to legislators Dec. 20. Some had read the plan and some had not as of last week, when the subject was mentioned during the legislature’s reorganizational meeting.

MAKING CHANGES

Legislator Sue Robideau (R-Brushton) raised questions on the law’s wording and about making the document consistent, which led to a discussion on whether the draft law should be changed and, if so, how significantly.

“I don’t think we should be making changes. We should be making suggestions to change and bring them up at the public hearings and discuss it,” said Legislator Timothy Burpoe (D-Saranac Lake).

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