Bed tax hinders those trying to help
To The Editor:
As a former full-time resident who has spent thousands of dollars fixing up my home to make it a quality lodging alternative to rent to visitors, I am disappointed in my county supervisors adding a two percent bed tax to the modest rental returns on my home.
Perhaps one thing they haven’t considered: Those of us who forego our status as full-time residents and yet keep our homes as a second home or as a rental also forego our STAR tax exemption, which means almost all of us will be contributing thousands of dollars more each year to the community in school taxes. My exemption last year was more than $1,500 on a house valued far below $150,000. We have to rent our homes for quite a few weekends before we’ve even recovered that lost tax credit. In this market, a lot of people are putting “For Sale” signs up instead.
In addition to that, we already contribute eight percent sales tax to Delaware County’s coffers. I’ve already remitted more than $500 in sales taxes after less than a year of renting my little house.
Making my home rentable was the only way I could afford to keep it and to maintain a connection to this community. I knew it would be quite some time before I recouped my initial “fix up” investment, but it was worth it to me to be able to keep my home and to feel like I was making a real contribution to alleviate the shortage of quality lodging, which is perhaps the biggest factor holding back a wholesale explosion in the already robust destination wedding trade.
By making my home a rental, I am also offering ongoing, good paying work to my excellent rental managers, Pine Hollow Lodging, cleaning services, mowing, plowing and maintenance services. All that money is made and spent locally. In the fix-up, I hired contractors and bought supplies and furnishings exclusively locally. Renting your home out is not always a picnic or convenient; some folks would rather let their home stand idle and unused than put up with the expense, logistics and invasion of privacy. It takes work and commitment. We home renters also make a contribution perforce, by keeping our housing stock in excellent condition.
I can’t imagine that the two percent so garnered is really going to offset the lack of real investment by the county in tourism enhancement, which lags far, far behind that of our neighboring counties. Or that the money will be sufficient to ferret out the supposed “cheaters,” whose sales-tax and bed-tax revenue would be a meager sum in comparison to actually allotting a decent budget line to tourism across the board, borne equally by all taxpayers.
In my heart, I think the supervisors also have in their sights the huge perceived success of The Roxbury and are longing to ride along on Henderson’s and Massa’s supposed “windfall” — most of which flows right back into an expense sheet that would probably give most of us terminal insomnia. Building such an ambitious enterprise here in our county was a risk very few other investors have ever taken. Their success merits every consideration we can give to keep them competitive with other getaways in much more glamorous tourism environments, where marketing and government support are more robust.
I wish the supervisors had the courage to confront our lack of tourism investment with the kind of county support that might actually make a difference, rather than creating another burden on community investors. In addition to the added paperwork headache and time lost for renters and rental management businesses, the cost to administer and police this tax at the county level will probably exceed any actual revenues so derived.
Trish Adams, Denver and Poquott
Graphic artist & correspondent to The Catskill Mountain News