The Essex County Board of Supervisors.
Randy Preston will see your 1 percent and raise you 1 more.
The Wilmington supervisor successfully asked for an amendment increasing the resolution seeking a 1-point increase (3 to 4 percent) in the Essex County Occupancy Tax to 2 (3 to 5 percent).
"Both Clinton and Franklin County are pursuing a 5 percent tax," Preston said. "Even though I know that there will be some businesses that will not like that, I think we should look at that."
Preston also said that, instead of putting the added revenue into the general fund, it should be put into a specific dedicated fund, which he said would be broken down to help fund the fish hatchery (25 percent), tourism product development fund (25 percent), winter shoulder (off-season) marketing program (46 percent) and tourism-related county travel.
"Don't get me wrong, that does not mean a total takeover of county travel," he said. "This should not go into the general fund, in my opinion."
County Attorney Daniel Manning said any change in the occupancy tax rate would have to be done by home rule and an amendment to the local law because the current law states that the occupancy tax rate cannot go above 3 percent.
"We can do this, but it has to be done by home rule request," Manning said. "The way that our law is written right now, we cannot exceed 3 percent."
Manning said that it was not out of the ordinary to see a 5 percent occupancy tax in a county, but 3 and 4 percent are more popular.
"Most of the counties have occupancy tax," Manning said. "Three and 4 percent are the most common, but 5 percent is pretty common. Other counties allow for 50 percent of the money to be used for tourism and 50 percent to go into the general fund or for other reasons."
Fifteen of the supervisors voted along with Preston to amend the resolution and then pass it onto the full board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 4.
"I am a firm believer that we need to put this money back into tourism," Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley said. "We have not been able to get even a tiny percentage of the occupancy tax back that is supposed to be available for these smaller chambers. We need to have this money not just in Lake Placid, but out in Newcomb and these other towns that feed into Lake Placid."
“As we get more occupancy tax revenue and more tourism dollars coming into the area, we can get more money off of the backs of the property tax,” Preston said.
County Manager Daniel Palmer cautioned that with more tourists would come more need for infrastructure work and more stress on the general fund of the budget.
"Tourists also generate general fund costs," Palmer said. "It is a general fund cost involved in all of that as well."
Two supervisors, Willsboro's Ed Hatch and North Elba's Roby Politi, voted against the measure.
"It should go to the general fund," Hatch said. "You are going to take away control of the board and I feel that with the budget issues that we are facing now, this would be better used in the general fund."
"Lake Placid funds 85 percent of all this money," Politi said. "There will be no way that I ever support an increase in the bed tax for the money to be used in the general fund. Until I know clearly how the money is going to be used, I will not vote on this either."