The Essex County Weighs and Means Committee Met earlier this week. The committee is chaired by Town of North Elba Supervisor Robi Politi. One of their actions – a Resolution to amend the local law to increase the Occupancy Tax by 1%… Supervisor Randy Preston moved to change the increase to 2% which would give the county a 5% occupancy tax if approved by the state.. Preston said “At this current time both Franklin and Clinton County are pursuing a 5% occupancy tax. And Even though I know that there is going to be some businesses that may not think this is a good idea, I really think at this point in time we need to do that.”Preston clarified, however, that he would like to see this be put into a dedicated fund and not the general fund.”Preston says a 2% increase in the occupancy tax would generate approximately $1.2 million. About $60,000 of that would go to the County for the 5% administration and approximately $1.2 million would go to the tourism office. He then explains that 25% would go to operation of the fish hatchery. Which he says is a great asset to the County and this is a way that at least it generates tourism and this is a way to pay for it.Prestonthen proposed 25% towards a tourism product development fund. And Last but not least, he says, approximately 46% for a winter shoulder season marketing program and that would be to further promote the County.
Discussion in the Weighs and Means Committee continued as supervisors explored the common percentages charged by other states – which they believed range from 2% to 5%
Most of the counties in the state have occupancy taxes and the rates run the gambit and
Supervisor Ed Hatch was among the opposition saying control is being taken away from the board and he suggested that with the problems that the county is having he thinks that money would be a big help to the County.
Bill Ferebee disagreed saying he does receive calls from local businesses in the Town of Keene objecting to the 1%; however, if they know that this money is going to go directly to tourism, I think they would be more in favor of it than it going to the general fund.
Committee Chairman Robi Politi says he won’t be able to support an increase in the bed tax for money to be utilized by the general fund. His support of moving bed tax money to the general fund in Essex County could only come at a time that the particulars of how the money is to be utilized for tourism, is clear. He didn’t support the resolution but it did pass the committee. So the Board of Supervisors is now one step closer to a 5% bed tax in Essex County.