Oneonta, Cooperstown County Reps Should Support Sharing Bed-Tax Revenue

Oneonta, Cooperstown County Reps Should

Support Sharing Bed-Tax Revenue

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 4-5, 2014

To the Editor:

Thank you to your newspapers for the repeated suggestion that the county Board of Representatives should reform the occupancy or “bed tax.” It is inexplicable that the board seems set on ignoring this commonsense appeal, including several representatives whose own districts will suffer greatly.

Tourism is one of the primary industries of our County and is led by Cooperstown, the city and town of Oneonta, and the towns of Otsego and Hartwick. Those communities collect the overwhelming majority of the tourism-related bed tax and they also suffer the majority of the wear and tear and stresses associated with this increased tourism. It makes sense that a greater portion of the bed tax should be returned to these communities to repair their roads or otherwise expend the funds as their residents see fit.

Over the past several months, the reform effort was primarily led by Mayors Miller and Katz of Oneonta and Cooperstown and Supervisor Wood from the Town of Oneonta. The initial suggestion was to increase the bed tax from 4 percent to 6 percent with the new funds being returned to the communities that generate it. This increase likely would not have been noticed by our visitors and would not have taken any funds from County coffers. It was rejected by the board.

The latest reform effort would abandon the bed-tax increase but still require the county to return a share of the funds to the local communities. Both plans would benefit residents of Oneonta and Cooperstown and I am at a loss as to why their representatives would reject these proposals.

The Town of Oneonta government has petitioned its Representative, Janet Hurley Quackenbush, regarding the need for bed-tax reform but has so far not received a positive response. The Town of Oneonta would stand to receive in the neighborhood of $40,000 annually from bed-tax reform.

While this may not sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things, this sum would allow for a reasonable increase in funds to the Town Highway Department with ZERO property tax increase to local residents. Oneontans would experience better road quality with no increased tax burden. It’s win-win for them.

The final county budget workshop was held this past Monday the 3rd, and the Board appears ready to reject any proposals to reform the bed tax, purely along partisan lines. This should not be a Republican or Democratic issue. I strongly urge Representatives Hulse and Quackenbush to represent the interests of your constituents and not just your party.

To the readers, please contact your county representative to encourage reasonable tax reform. This conversation will likely continue into next year.

ANDREW STAMMEL
Member
Oneonta Town Board