Questions about the Bed Tax

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Editor’s note: The following letter is addressed to Mike Triolo, supervisor of the Town of Stamford. The author asked that it be published here as a letter to the editor.

To The Editor:
I recently read the minutes of the September 25, 2013 meeting of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors. 
Quoting the minutes:  “In answer to Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Triolo stated that he did not believe the bed tax would deter tourism in the county as all other of the surrounding counties have implemented a bed tax.”
Questions:  How did you come to this conclusion?  Did you speak to lodging establishments in the county?  Have you considered that maybe travelers will cross the border because there is no bed tax in Delaware County? 
Quoting the minutes: “Mr. Triolo noted that the county would not impose an excessive tax, however, considering the tax rate of surrounding counties Delaware County could anticipate around $40,000 to $50,000 of revenue in the first year of implementation.”
Question: What are these numbers based on and how did you come up with them?
Quoting the minutes: “Mr. Triolo stated that the county is unable to fund the Chamber of Commerce to the level of surrounding counties and this limits the county’s ability to advertise and promote the area.  Increased tourism benefits business owners and increases sales tax revenue.”
Questions: If increased tourism would benefit all tourism based business owners and not just lodging, shouldn’t the county consider a tax on all tourism based businesses?  Why should the lodging establishments carry the burden of having to increase their rates on guests via this tax?  Have you considered the fact that if the tax is implemented, it would prevent lodging establishments from incrementally raising their rates that year, forcing many to go into debt to keep up with the rising cost of bills? 
Quoting the minutes:  “In answer to Mr. Hynes, Mr. Triolo advised that he was told the Chamber conducted a survey of its membership and that its members support the implementation of a bed tax.”
Questions:  First of all, who told you a survey was conducted?  Have you seen a copy of this survey?  As I count it, there are about 20 traditional lodging establishments that are members of the chamber, with an additional 55 traditional lodging establishments that are not members of the Chamber.  So, from what I read, a survey was done of the members of the lodging establishments and a majority were in favor...correct?  Do you have a copy of that survey?  What questions were asked in the survey?  How were establishments contacted?  Was a written survey form used asking multiple questions about occupancy rates, business levels, etc.?  Were all lodging members of the chamber contacted?  Were non-member lodging establishments contacted?  If so, how many and what were the responses?  If not, why not?
Quoting the minutes:  “He (Mr. Triolo) encouraged the Supervisors to discuss the matter in their own town to gain a feeling from their constituents”
Question:  Since this meeting on September 25, 2013, what lodging establishments in the Town of Stamford have you contacted and what have been their reactions to the proposed tax?
Finally, has any kind of formal full-scale, long-term study of all of the lodging and tourism related businesses in the county as to the impact of the proposed tax?  If not, why not?  Would it not be in the county’s best interest to have a formal study before implementing a new tax? 
Has the board of supervisors considered the fact that the majority of the lodging businesses in the county are not members of the Chamber, so is the Chamber really speaking for the lodging community as a whole?  Has the Chamber of Commerce board voted on the issue? Have the members of the Chamber voted on the issue? 
 
Ben Fenton,
River Run Bed & Breakfast, Fleischmanns