April 12, 2013

Some resorts support bed tax


SARANAC LAKE — Resort managers say they support a bed tax in Franklin County but want clarification about how their booked reservations at agreed-upon rates would be handled.

Jacob Kipping, assistant general manager of The Point in Saranac Lake, said he has accepted deposits for reservations into 2015 for accommodations that cost between $1,500 and $2,990 a night.

He has more than a dozen such clients booked already and says he should not have to go back and change the price they locked in so the 5 percent bed tax can be added.

Mary Gach, general manager at Ampersand Bay Resort and Boat Club in Saranac Lake, said the same situation applies to her guests, who book ahead and pay a minimum of $200 a night to a maximum of $3,400 a week to stay.

County Attorney Jonathan Miller is expected to look into the issue and report back to legislators.

Kipping and Gach were among the few people who attended a second series of public hearings on the county’s proposed bed tax, which needs approval from the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in order to be enacted.

Those attending included Nicole Brownell, owner of Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn on the Essex County side of Saranac Lake, who participates in bed-tax collection there.

She said she has never had her guests complain about the added rate and that her business gets a lot of benefit from the promotions and advertising funded through the 3 percent bed tax.

Brownell brought along a one-page form that accommodation owners file to report their bed-tax income quarterly. She said the process is easy.

She was especially pleased about the destination marketing done by the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, which promotes Saranac Lake and Essex County. She said ROOST boosted her business by creating visitor-stay packages and opening her to business workshops and added exposure she never had before.

Jim Murnane, owner of Best Western Mountain Lake Inn, said the marketing funding raised through bed tax “has been incredibly beneficial, and I don’t see how Franklin County can say no to this.”

He said the few complaints he has heard are from places that plan larger tour groups, but most customers realize “it’s the cost of doing business, and they expect it. They’re not put off by it at all.”

Email Denise A.