Fulton County’s occupancy tax clears last hurdle

JOHNSTOWN — Fresh off state approval for Fulton County’s proposed 4 percent hotel and motel occupancy tax, the Board of Supervisors on Monday set a public hearing for Feb. 13 to enact a local law that would establish the tax.

Supervisors voted 19-0 to schedule the hearing for 1:30 p.m. that day at the County Office Building.

The tax would go into effect on or after July 1.

Johnstown 2nd Ward Supervisor Mike Kinowski, board chairman, said Fulton County had wanted to establish the tax four years ago, but it was previously not voted on by the state Legislature.

Fulton County’s similar action in 2012 was rebuffed by state legislators who indicated the state was not approving any new local taxes that year. Since then, the state has approved “bed tax” bills for several other counties, leaving Fulton County as only one of about 10 of New York state’s 62 counties that doesn’t have one.

But county Administrative Officer Jon Stead said Monday that the board’s Finance Committee tried again, and the state Legislature in November gave approval to a bill from then-state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna, and state Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-Newport. That approval gives Fulton County authorization to enact its own occupancy tax local law.

“It starts the process for that,” Stead said Monday of the hearing.

A copy of the draft law was included with the resolution.

Fulton County officials have said conservative estimates of the potential tax revenues from the tax show it could raise at least $100,000 annually for the county. Officials said the revenue must be dedicated to such ventures as tourism and economic development projects.

James Landrio, general manager of the Johnstown Holiday Inn, said Monday that his business continues to work with county legislators on the draft law.

“We worked with the Board of Supervisors on a special committee and tried to make recommendations before the [state] law got passed,” he said. “They did seem to be receptive to some of our concerns.”

Landrio said his management at the Holiday Inn feels an occupancy tax of 4 percent is “unreasonable” on customers, which include many Fulton County residents. He said the tax should be less than 4 percent.

The draft law that will be put to a hearing states that “revenues derived from said tax, after deducting up to 10 percent for administering the tax, shall be allocated for tourism development, economic development and other directly related and supporting activities.”

Businesses that could lodge the new occupancy tax are defined in the local law. They are “any facility providing lodging on an overnight basis and shall include those facilities designated and commonly known as ‘bed and breakfast,’ ‘inn,’ ‘housekeeping cottages’ with four or more units, and ‘tourist’ facilities.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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