December 5, 2012

Bed-tax law ready

MALONE — A draft law to collect a 5 percent bed tax on overnight stays will be presented Thursday to Franklin County legislators.

If the draft is OK’d and the State Legislature approves the change, lodging sites subject to the new fee would include hotels, motels, vacation-rental properties, bed-and-breakfast establishments, cottages and condominiums.

The proposed local law will be presented by the Occupancy-Tax Committee to the Economic Development and Planning Committee at 10 a.m. Thursday, which is the next meeting day for the full County Legislature.

Also included is a recommendation for the county to immediately create a seven-member Tourism Advisory Committee, which would advise legislators on how the collected bed-tax money should be spent.

Much of Tuesday’s two-hour meeting of the Occupancy-Tax Committee involved final review and tweaking of the proposal after recommendations and clarifications were made by County Treasurer Bryon Varin and County Attorney Jonathan Miller.

Varin could not be present, but Miller spoke on his behalf, saying the Treasurer’s Office would create a handbook for lodging owners to explain the law and their responsibilities, right down to what forms they would fill out to report their bed-tax activity.

The law also details the legal actions and powers that the treasurer would have to ensure adherence.

To make it easier for owners to comply, reporting schedules would be similar to those for sales-tax collection and follow the Internal Revenue Service reporting cycle.


Before a final decision was made to include vacation rentals and other properties, the early part of the meeting was a back-and-forth about whether to include them in the law now or add that section later, assuming the state grants permission. 

Legislator Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay), chairman of the Economic Development and Planning Committee, said Franklin County could do as other counties do with their bed tax: include those properties in the law but not enforce it for them.

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