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County occupancy tax continuation passes through hearing stage

ELIZABETHTOWN-The path has been cleared for the Essex County Board of Supervisors to continue a 3 percent occupancy tax for three more years.

Only one member of the public commented during the June 27 public hearing on the topic, which was tagged as proposed Local Law No. 2 of 2011.

The tax took effect Jan. 1, 2000 and was continued in 2002, 2005 and 2008.

Margaret Bartley of the Elizabethtown Chamber of Commerce commented on the proposed local law, asking if more money from the occupancy tax could be funneled back to local chambers.

"While we realize that Lake Placid generates much of the bed tax money, the ability of the Lake Placid Chamber to promote businesses in other towns, such as ours, is limited," Bartley said. "Having our website or an occasional public event listed on their website, has little effect on our businesses and is a poor return for the money our lodging owners collect. As you prepare to extend the bed tax, I'd like you to consider giving $1,000 of bed tax money back to each town that collects the tax."

County vice-chairman and North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi said that the county did not handle the occupancy tax money and that the Visitor's Bureau was responsible for that.

"The money goes directly to the visitor's bureau for the distribution of the funds," Politi said. "

Bartley said that she would get in touch with the Regional Office on Sustainable Tourism (ROOST), to which president Jim McKenna said she would be welcomed.

"We should talk, because we do have programs in place," McKenna said.

Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said that he was pleased with how the money was used.

"I think that the money is well-distributed for the marketing of the entire county," he said. "More goes to places like Lake Placid because that is the spark plug for the county in terms of tourism."

Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said that other counties are now duplicating what has happened in Essex County.

"Other counties that said that they would never have a bed tax are now following our lead because they see how well it works," Morrow said.

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