MALONE — Franklin County is again seeking State Legislature approval and the governor’s blessing to establish a 5 percent occupancy tax devoted to tourism efforts.
Local legislators officially renewed their request this week, urging quick Senate and Assembly approval of identical bills to create what is commonly called a “bed tax” on overnight guests.
Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (D-Peru) introduced the bills in their respective houses in January.
Senate Bill S1336 was referred to the Investigations and Government Operations Committee, and Assembly Bill A6313 went to the Ways and Means Committee, according to the State Legislature website.
STALLED LAST YEAR
The Assembly passed the measure when it was introduced last year, but the Senate failed to take up the issue before the session broke for the summer.
The proposed extra charge on a guest’s bill would apply to those staying at hotels and motels, bed-and-breakfast operations, cottages, condominiums and vacation-rental properties.
An estimate of funds collected under the new fee could be between $300,000 and $400,000 a year, based on the number of room nights available.
The county has funded a tourism office in the past, using a budget line item. But the bed tax would be used to offset that expense to taxpayers and also fund activities, programs and initiatives to boost tourist numbers.
Legislators created the Tourism Advisory Committee in 2013 to decide where the money would be dedicated if a bed tax is allowed.
And committee members recommended earlier this year that the county contract with the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism in Lake Placid to handle the day-to-day tourism operation since the former tourism representative, Fawn Tatro, took another job at the end of 2014.
Just before casting the unanimous vote Thursday in support of the proposed law, Legislator Carl Sherwin (D-Malone) said that establishing an occupancy tax “is crucial to our economic-development effort.”
Legislator Gordon Crossman (D-Malone) agreed.
“We’ve been emphasizing this for years,” he said. “It is essential to our financial development.”
If the State Legislature passes the respective bills, the bed tax would still have to go before Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.
Email Denise A. Raymo: firstname.lastname@example.org