Fulton County revives push for bed tax

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County is renewing an effort it abandoned in 2012 that sought state approval of a hotel-motel occupancy tax.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said Friday less than 10 of New York’s 62 counties don’t have a hotel-motel occupancy tax and Fulton County is one of them.

He noted the county last tried to secure a 4 percent tax on people staying at hotels and motels, which must be approved by the state Legislature, in 2012.

But Fulton County abandoned seeking the special “home rule” legislation then after supervisors heard through state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna, and Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-Newport, that the state Legislature, at that time, was not in a mood to allow the raising of taxes.

The state legislators advised county officials their legislation probably wouldn’t be taken up – and it wasn’t. At the time, state government was in the early stages of implementing the annual 2 percent tax cap across the state.

Stead said the legislature in 2014 did allow home rule legislation for two more counties, including St. Lawrence County, allowing their hotel-motel occupancy tax. He said Fulton County supervisors think the time is ripe to approach the state again.

“We asked for a motel tax,” Mayfield Supervisor Rick Argotsinger, chairman of the Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee, said Friday. ‘We’re renewing the effort, It’s something our senator and assemblyman have to push through, so we’ll see what Farley and Butler do.”

Farley couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

Argotsinger said the Finance Committee is sponsoring two resolutions related to home rule and taxes at the full board meeting at 1 p.m. Monday at the County Office Building.

The first will be a routine item county legislators have done periodically regarding sales tax for the past 10 years, Argotsinger said. It involves extending the county’s existing 1 percent sales tax increase by two more years. The last time it was done by the board was in September 2013, extending that sales tax hike until 2015. The board previously approved a similar two-year county extension in 2011 and has done so every two years since the mid-2000s.

Supervisors earlier this year passed a resolution requesting special “home rule” legislation through the state Legislature authorizing the extension of the additional rate again. The same resolution also requested the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown be allowed to preempt the additional rate through Nov. 30, 2015.

Argotsinger said action Monday will also involve a request for home rule legislation for the hotel-motel occupancy tax, which is also called a bed tax. That tax would be effective Dec. 1 and run through Nov. 30, 2017.

James Landrio, general manager of the Johnstown Holiday Inn, reached Friday, was unaware the county was again taking up the issue of a proposed hotel-motel occupancy tax. Three years ago, he told supervisors that motel businesses in Fulton County weren’t notified and asked for their opinions of such a tax.

“Here goes the same thing,” Landrio said. “They don’t want to bring the business community in for comments and suggestions.”

By LH Staff