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Franklin County may consider occupancy tax

A push to create an occupancy tax in Franklin County by three area chambers of commerce could have trouble getting off the ground.

Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sylvie Nelson said Friday that a collection of the county's business advocacy organizations are seeking the creation of a tax on rooms rented by hotels.

And - similar to a system in Essex County - the new revenue should go directly toward marketing the region as a tourist destination, Nelson says.

"It's important because if you look at Clinton County - which just implemented theirs about 18 months ago - they have a master plan and are moving forward with initiatives," he said. "We need to do the same thing in Franklin County."

The regional chambers in Tupper Lake and Malone have joined the Saranac Lake organization in lobbying for the new tax.

In Essex County, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism annually receives between $1.2 and $1.6 million in occupancy tax revenue. ROOST gets 95 percent of the occupancy tax collected in Essex County to fund its operating costs.

But in Franklin County, the move could have some problems.

Paul Maroun represents Tupper Lake on the Franklin County Board of Legislators.

"I think it's something that's not a priority on my horizon right now at the county," he said. "It's something we might look at down the road, but right now it's not a priority."

Franklin County is just one of two counties statewide with no current tax on hotel room bookings.

Essex County currently collects 3 percent of the room's total cost. Statewide, the tax averages about 4.5 percent of the total cost.

With only around 500 rooms countywide, the amount collected in Franklin County would likely be significantly less than the amount raised in Essex County.

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