Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — Visitors to Orleans County inns will continue paying a hotel/motel bed tax through Dec. 31, 2015 after a unanimous vote by the legislature on Wednesday.
During a public hearing regarding the law, the lone voice heard was Paul Lauricella. He spoke in opposition to the law.
“I think it’s unfair to the businesses that come here,” he said. “I know it’s used to advance tourism but there must be better ways to do this than by penalizing businesses.”
Legislator Ken Rush, a Waterport resident, explained the point of the tax and pointed to the most affected population.
“Fishermen are the people who make up 95 percent of those who pay the tax,” Rush said. “We use the bed tax money to buy easements for the fishermen and use it for advertising for the fishing industry.”
Earlier this year, Point Breeze, in the Town of Carlton, was named an Ultimate Fishing Town, helping to draw anglers to the area. Lauricella asked why spend money on the advertising if people were apparently coming to the area already.
The chicken-or-egg back and forth continued with Rush pointing out that people knew of the area because of the advertising dollars spent. Rush added that Orleans County is far from alone in having an established bed tax.
“It doesn’t matter where you travel, there is a tax like this,” he said.
In other legislature news, the salaries of the legislators was questioned. Specifically asked was why the legislative chairman was set to receive an annual stipend roughly $5,000 more than the rest of the board.
Legislator George Bower, a former chairman himself, defended the difference.
“There is more responsibility and more of a time commitment as chairman,” he said. “The chairman is someone willing to devote time and energy as both a legislator and chairman. It’s a tremendous amount of work.”
The county budget, which will become official later this month, was also brought up during public comment period. Last week the budget vote ended in a tie. Rush, who was absent, has voiced support for the budget which has led Chairman Dave Callard to call any extra vote merely “symbolic.”
Callard added on Wednesday, “Each legislator signed off on the respective budgets of the departments for which they are responsible. The budget is written from that, and each legislator participates largely in the budget process.”
Finally, the second meeting for the legislature this month was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Dec. 23.