JOHNSTOWN – For the second time in four years, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors has voted to ask the state Legislature to allow Fulton County to impose a 4 percent hotel-motel occupancy tax.
The last time the board passed a similar measure in 2012, it 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.
This time, legislation supporting the 4 percent “bed tax” is ready to go in the state Assembly, bill A.9635, and state Senate, bill S.9635
Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Charles Potter, Gloversville’s 4th Ward supervisor, said unlike in past discussions about the occupancy tax, board members consulted with Holiday Inn General Manager Jim Landrio and concluded the 4 percent tax would not be a major burden to his business.
“We had a nice meeting with a hotel owner and a bed and breakfast owner, and we listened to their concerns, and we forwarded our request to the state Legislature,” Potter said. “The revenue that you get for the hotel or occupancy tax goes for two purposes – the promotion of tourism or economic development.”
Two supervisors, Johnstown 1st Ward Richard “Dick” Handy and Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born, voted against the resolution.
Born said she believes the resolution is anti-business and fears it will negatively affect local people who have weddings at local hotels and pay for relatives to stay there.
“I know that most people who travel do end up paying a bed tax, but locally, we have a lot of people here who book their weddings and parties at the Holiday Inn, and this would just be more of an intrusion and more taxes our own local people will have to support. I’m sure it’s going to pass, but I wanted to vote no,” she said.
Handy said he’s also concerned about the effect the tax will have on local residents.
“I think a lot of people who live here in the two cities and the county, like if there’s a family wedding and you have 40 or 50 people coming here, the person who lives here, they are paying for rooms for their kids and they’ve got to pay this tax. It’s just another tax for our people here in Fulton County,” he said.
Potter said conservative estimates of the potential tax revenues from the tax show it could raise at least $100,000 annually in revenue for the county.
“A lot of the other counties in New York state have an occupancy tax. We’re one of the few that doesn’t. Most people who stay in lodging, they don’t even really notice it. It’s a good revenue source and it’s for tourism and economic development,” he said.