New York lawmakers have authorized the town and village of Skaneateles to begin charging a room tax to guests staying at local hotels, motels and vacation rentals.
The new 5% tax in Skaneateles will be in addition to the 7% hotel tax imposed by Onondaga County.
Combined, the 12% nightly tax on room rates, AirBnB and other short-term rentals would be one of the highest taxes on residents in the state.
Only Allegany County in the Southern Tier at 8% has a higher tax rate than Onondaga County, according to the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association.
The organization opposes the new tax in Skaneateles, which was approved by the state Senate and Assembly in the final days of their annual session.
The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Kathy Hochul, who said she would not sign it into law. A spokesman said the governor is reviewing the legislation.
The New York State Hospitality and Tourism Association, which represents more than 1,000 hotels, motels, resorts and tourism agencies across the state, says the new tax is bad for business.
“Our organization is urgently seeking the governor’s veto because we think it would be bad for small businesses that rely on tourism,” said Mark Dorr, president of the organization.
If the new tax is approved, a visitor who spends $200 per night on a hotel room or vacation rental in Skaneateles will pay an additional $40 per night in local room tax (12%) and sales tax (8%). . .
“It’s going to put a damper on some of the smaller, local hotels,” Dorr said. “While it looks good on the surface – raising money for people who don’t live in the region – people don’t realize that many visitors never come back.”
Fewer than a dozen cities, towns and villages in New York state levy a flat tax in a separate chamber, Dorr said.
Town and village officials in Skaneateles have decided to use additional tax dollars for parks and other community projects.
Skaneateles Supervisor Janet Aaron has defended the new tax, saying it will ensure that the thriving tourism industry along the coast benefits all residents.
“We’re a big team, and we have a lot of tourism,” Aaron said in March. “One way to reduce the impact on tourism is to collect this additional revenue. This money would have helped us improve our zoo, build football fields and more.”
Aaron did not respond to a request for comment after state lawmakers approved the bill.
If Hochul signs the bill, Skaneateles residents will have an opportunity to comment on whether the tax should be levied. Town and village officials must hold public hearings before the final vote.
The law passed by state lawmakers had bipartisan support. He was supported by State Sen. Rachel May, D-Syracuse, and Assemblyman John Lemondes, R-LaFayette.
The ordinance allows the town of Skaneateles to put new tax money into its coffers to spend as it sees fit. The tax could generate about $300,000 a year in new revenue, according to city officials.
New York lawmakers have not approved a new hotel occupancy tax for cities and towns.
Over the past six years, the state Legislature has approved only two bills that would have given localities the power to collect taxes. But in all these cases, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo voted for the bill, Dorr said.
The town of DeWitt wants to increase the hotel tax to 2.75% in 2018, but this has not been approved by the state Legislature.
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