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November 18, 2012

Bed-tax law nearly done

MALONE — A final draft of a local law recommending Franklin County seek state permission to create a 5 percent bed tax could be finished within just a few weeks.

That fits in with legislators’ plan to have it ready by the end of 2012 so a request can be made to the State Legislature when it convenes in January.

Essex County and Clinton County each have a 3 percent occupancy tax on overnight visitors.

Franklin, Hamilton and Herkimer are the only counties in New York state that do not have a bed tax.

Representatives from an alliance of chambers of commerce from Malone, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake resurrected the idea about 18 months ago in hopes of convincing the county to give it the cash to carry out events, activities and construction and accommodation improvements to businesses that cater to tourists.

The alliance, using a 3 percent bed-tax figure, estimated potential annual revenue at $300,000 to $400,000.

LOCAL LAW

But instead of giving the power away to other entities, the County Legislature’s Economic Development and Planning Committee — first under Marc “Tim” LaShomb (R-Malone) and now Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) — ran with the idea and established an Occupancy-Tax Committee to study the feasibility of a local law.

Five lodging owners, a retired tourism expert and a former school administrator were brought together from each end of Franklin County to structure the local law and are expected to meet in the next two weeks to finalize the document.

According to the draft law, its goal is to “enhance the general economy and quality of life in Franklin County through the marketing of tourism and conventions.”

All revenue generated would be held in a separate account by the county treasurer.

The only expenses to be taken out would be 5 percent for administration and any policy-enforcement costs.

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