Delaware County supervisors take next steps to establish two percent bed tax

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By Cheryl Petersen
Echoing an event that occurred 217 years ago, the Delaware County Board of Supervisors met at the Delaware County Historical Association’s (DCHA), Frisbee House, outside Delhi for their May 28 regular meeting.
DCHA Director Tim Duerden welcomed the supervisors back. The board handled matters of a bed tax and landfill actions.
Before convening the meeting, Duerden reported, “May 31, 1797, a seven member board met here in the Frisbee House tavern room. The house also served as the Court of Common Plea, with Gideon Frisbee serving as judge.” The seven members were from the towns of Harpersfield and Kortright, Franklin, Colchester, Stamford, Middletown, plus Walton, a town in the process of becoming official.
“At a time when they did not have air-condition or heat in automobiles, the supervisors only met two or three times a year,” said Duerden. “They’d spend the night here at the Frisbee House, before and after meetings.”
As for 21st Century business, the supervisors continued to move forward to establish a two percent hotel/motel occupancy tax. And, a new 12-passenger Ford van was purchased for the Veteran’s Services.
“The new 2014 van was an unexpected cost, but veteran’s services needs a reliable vehicle,” said Town of Hamden Supervisor, Wayne Marshfield.
On the topic of the bed tax, New York State has assigned Senate and Assembly Bill numbers to authorize Delaware County to take the next step to impose a two percent bed tax. It still yet has to be approved by the state and go through a public hearing at the county level.
Glenn Nealis, director of the Industrial Development Agency, said, “The purpose of the tax is to create a dedicated funding stream to promote tourism and economic development.”
“A major concern is that the tax will kill tourism,” said Nealis. “In New York State, 58 counties have a bed tax, and only four counties do not. I don’t think tourists are driving to those four counties to spend the night because they don’t want to pay a bed tax.”
“An estimated $197,000 in bed tax revenues would be administered by the county treasurer’s office,” added Nealis. “The treasurer’s office will be allowed to retain up to 10 percent of the gross bed tax revenues to pay for the administration costs.”
“I’ve talked with the treasurer of Otsego County and they haven’t had to hire extra help since they’ve implemented a bed tax,” explained Nealis. “I feel the bed tax itself isn’t a burden. The burden however will fall on business owners who will spend more time reporting taxes. There will be a credit for their compliance.”
Disbursement of the occupancy tax funds would be authorized by a Tourism Advisory Board.
The bed tax is on a three-year plan. “If Delaware County finds the tax detrimental, the law can be repealed,” said Nealis.
The bed tax was opposed by supervisors from the towns of Andes, Bovina, Colchester, and Deposit. “I think a bed tax is right but I was asked by my constituents to vote no,” said Andes Supervisor Marty Donnelly.
Bovina Supervisor, Tina Molé said, “The B&B’s I’ve spoken with don’t want any more taxes.”
A separate and different resolution was approved to accept bids to export construction and demolition materials, generated from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) buyouts. “After a buyout, structures are removed and the materials are brought to the county landfill. These materials take up too much air-space in the county landfill, therefore FEMA agrees to fully reimburse the costs of exporting them out of the county,” said Sam Rowe.