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Yates tax committee studies law issues  

PENN YAN—Work continues on refining some of the facets of the Yates County occupancy tax. At the April 6 meeting of the Occupancy Tax Committee, Yates County treasurer Bonnie Percy said there has been a failure of  some of the rental properties to take the New York tax credit while others took the incorrect amount. The county returned incorrect checks, asking the property owners to resubmit their return. Percy said the situation has improved somewhat since the county increased the credit from three to five percent.
Percy said the state accepts the money when it is received, but it does not go back to the owner unless it is amended later. She said the state has no written procedure for handling the matter. Yates County will initiate a written procedure.
Committee chairman Taylor Fitch said there is still no representative from the rental community although information was set forth about committee membership when the occupancy tax committee was formed last year.
Yates County Legislature established the occupancy tax which was made effective Jan. 1, 2008.  The law required hotels, motels, bed and breakfast operations and rental properties to collect a four percent occupancy tax. Half of the tax is earmarked for local tourism agencies and the other half for the  county’s general fund. Although the first year’s income was budgeted at $125,000, more than half that amount was collected during 2008. Of the $285,967 collected, $81,735 went into the county’s general fund. The county had to defend itself against a lawsuit brought in March 2008 which  cost $69,429, reducing the amount for the general fund by that amount. The county won the suit and the plaintiff was ordered to pay court costs.  
The committee also discussed Seneca County’s process for tourism promotion matching grants; a 50/50 match for marketing and advertising support. Fitch said after discussion of the matter with the county finance committee he will write an outline of their thoughts on this type of process for the next meeting of the occupancy tax committee, at 2 p.m., May 4.   

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