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Legislator's review occupancy tax

PENN YAN—An occupancy tax was enacted in Yates County in 2009 and it was a point of discussion during the April 5 meeting of the Yates County Legislature’s finance committee. The discussion was an outgrowth of a workshop on the occupancy tax held in April.
The main opposition to the four percent tax on hotels, motels, bed and breakfast operations and seasonal rentals is connected with the tax on vacation rentals. Legislator Mark Morris said he feels the tax is a bad thing to do, commenting, “We don’t want to be on the negative side of taxation.”
Committee chairman Tim Dennis noted a significant amount from the tax comes from vacation rentals. If the tax was removed the dollars available to support tourism would be cut significantly. Approximately $175,000 was raised in the first year the tax was in place with half encumbered for tourism and half for the General Fund after expenses. Morris said he would like to see the county lighten up the budget and expenses.
Legislator Bill Holgate said the vacation rentals are taxed because they are a business and it helps offset property tax increases. At this time, surrounding counties have taxes on all except vacation rentals.
Legislator Dan Banach said, “We have probably five percent of voters or taxpayers affected by this. Ninety five percent are not and they would be if the tax was eliminated. We need to look at the 95 percent who are affected. I have to represent the person on the lake, the farmer and my next door neighbor.”
Dennis told the group, “I want to figure out where we stand on this.” Morris proposed a motion to amend the lodging tax to eliminate the tax on seasonal properties. There was no second to his motion.  Dennis concluded, “We may appear to be unfair, but we don’t try to be.”

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