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Orleans will continue bed tax

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 December 2013 at 12:00 am

The tax on lodging generates about $35K for tourism

Photo by Tom Rivers – Dollinger’s Motel in Albion is among the lodging businesses in Orleans County that collect a 4 percent tax, in addition to the sales tax, from their customers.

ALBION – Orleans County legislators voted today to continue a 4 percent tax on lodging businesses, a tax that generates about $35,000 annually for the county’s tourism budget.

The county first imposed the tax in the year 2004. It has been extended every two years since then.

Motels, bed and breakfasts and other lodging providers collect the 4 percent tax from their customers, which is on top of the sales tax. The bed tax in 2012 raised $35,859, County Treasurer Susan Heard said.

The county doesn’t designate how the funds be used by tourism, but it helps pay for easements for fishing access, advertising and other outreach, said Legislator Ken Rush, R-Carlton.

He said most of the tourism funds are targeted towards getting more fishermen to the county. They, in turn as visitors, pay 90 to 95 percent of the bed tax, Rush said.

Legislators were asked to cease with the tax.

“There are better ways (to raise money for tourism) than by punishing businesses,” said Paul Lauricella, Conservative Party vice chairman.

None of the lodging operators in the county attended today’s public hearing, but in the past they have asked the county not to impose the tax. They have said not having a bed tax could give the lodging operators an advantage over other options outside the county.

Rush said he doesn’t know of a county that doesn’t have a bed tax.

“It doesn’t matter where you travel, you pay a bed tax,” Rush said in response to Lauricella. “If we don’t charge it we’d be the only one without a bed tax.”

The tax doesn’t generate much money for Orleans compared to counties with chain hotels. In neighboring Genesee County, which has more than 1,000 hotel rooms, the bed tax generates more than $400,000 a year. That money is used to promote Genesee businesses and attractions.