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Room tax revenue increases 65 percent in Schuyler

YATES, SCHUYLER COUNTIES—Depending on the county, the tourism sector is showing different signs on how well it is doing based on room tax revenue.
For Yates County the room tax revenue compared to the first half of last year went down one percent.  However, for Schuyler County, the amount during the same period of time increased 65 percent.
According to Bonnie Percy, Yates County treasurer, the sales tax revenue for 2009 (January to July) was $44,500.  For 2008, the amount brought in was $45,070.  She added that the total room tax revenue from 2008 was $285,966.82.
According to Peg Tomassi, secretary for the Schuyler County administrator’s office, during the first half of the year in 2009  the room tax brought in $56,201.24.  In 2008 it brought in $33,927.35.  She added the total room tax revenue from 2008 was $234,353.61.
Both Percy and Tomassi said that the third quarters for each county would have the most revenue yet.  Tomassi said the third quarter is usually when the most revenue is brought in by the tax, while the first quarter is “historically slow.”  However, she added that 2009’s first quarter brought in $6,000 more than last year for Schuyler.
Percy pointed out how much difference can be in the third quarter by citing last year’s number.  In just the 2008 third quarter, Yates County got $172,135 from the room tax while the second quarter brought in $34,500.  
She attributed the slight decrease in the revenue to rentals and tourists continuing to come to the area.
Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn said the increase is mainly due to the Harbor Hotel, which opened in mid-2008.  He added the hotel does not appear to have been taking away business from others in the lodging industry.  O’Hearn said they are still bringing in revenue as well.
“It’s a reflection of the payoff of investing in Main Street revitalization and the total economy,” added O’Hearn.
Both counties also end up giving the revenue to tourist agencies.  Percy said Yates County gives the room tax revenue to the Yates County Chamber of Commerce, Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, and the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association.  Tomassi said the county keeps five percent of the room tax revenue and gives the remaining amount to the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.
Max Neal, president of the Watkins Glen chamber, said the funds are then used to support regional groups; the Finger Lakes Wine Country and Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance.  She added that the county approves the plan the chamber uses in spending the funds.  


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