August 23-24, 2008

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Orange County considers hotel room tax

GOSHEN - Orange County may no longer be one of the 10 counties in New York State without a hotel room tax.

County Executive Edward Diana was successful in getting the measure through the legislative Rules and Intergovernmental Relations Committee Friday afternoon.  If adopted by the Ways and Means Committee next Wednesday, and then on the floor early next month, a letter requesting a five percent hotel room tax will be sent to the state legislature for approval.  Governor Paterson must also sign the bill in order for the county to begin implementation of the tax.

Diana said based on 3,600 rooms in the county with a 50 percent to 60 percent occupancy rate, the county’s take would be sizeable.

The estimated income to the county would be some $4 million per year, mostly generated from people who don’t live in the county, he said.

Orange County Tourism Director Susan Cayea said the measure wouldn’t negatively affect the tourism industry in the county.

There is no one choosing Orange County because we do not have a tax,” said the head of the tourism agency.  “People who come here will want to come here under any circumstances.  They don’t even know what tax they are paying when they go elsewhere.”

The lone opposition in committee came from Democrat Jeffrey Berkman.

“I just kind of hate an arbitrary five percent tax.  I’m just uncomfortable with it.  I’ll have to do some thinking about it before it hits the floor.”

All four neighboring counties have the tax: four percent in Dutchess, two percent in Rockland and Ulster, and five percent in Sullivan.


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