County Reps Skeptical About News
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Air BnB is Otsego County’s single largest bed-tax generator, but from April 1 to June 30, it generated nothing, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles reported to the county Board of Representatives this morning.
“They collected something like $140,000 and they sent us zero money,” he said. At a 2 percent rate, that would generally generate $2,800.
According to discussion, Air BnB occupancy is usually “transient rentals, subject to bed tax. But, as people flee coronavirus infestations in cities, they are renting the local properties for more than 30 days, which takes them out of the transient category.
Generally, COVID-19 has dampened tourism and lowered bed-tax revenues from local hotels.
Ruffles said he contacted Brent Sutherland of MyLodgeTax by Avalara, which processes taxes for BnB owners, and he confirmed that BnB operators earned $136,179 over those three months.
Sutherland also advised the county treasurer Avalara doesn’t have to provide the county with records, to allow its declaration to be audited, “due to privacy concerns.”
County Rep. Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, asked if Ruffles could find a “work around” that would allow the county to continue receiving some benefits.
County Rep. Rick Brockway, R-West Laurens, reported on “a property behind mine where fellow says he has it rented every weekend all summer long.”
County Rep. Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, knew of a similar situation.
“This is something to keep an eye on,” said county Board Chairman David Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Town of Middlefield.