The Chautauqua County Legislature has passed a resolution supporting state bills that alter how the county can spend the bed tax monies it collects.
With the County’s 5% occupancy tax up for renewal by New York State, Assemblyman Andy Goodell and State Senator George Borrello have sponsored legislation that requires half of the 2% allocated for lake management and enhancement funds be used for “activities that control, treat, and/or remove invasive or nuisance submerged aquatic vegetation, reduce harmful algae blooms, or provide shoreline cleanup.”
There are no changes in the 3% allocated toward tourism efforts.
Legislator Susan Parker motioned to amend the resolution, saying she supports the extension of the occupancy tax, “And I support removing the strict expenditure requirements proposed by Assemblyman Goodell and Senator Borrello. This amendment will allow the county legislature to elect to allocate occupancy tax monies at its discretion as I think it should at that level without the dictate of New York State.”
Legislator Elisabeth Rankin countered that the state has always had a say in how the money is spent, “This is not unusual for them to do that and the state absolutely has the right to suggest how this money is spent. It’s without them and without their support, we would not have the occupancy tax. It’s just like the fact that if we wanted to increase the sales tax by 1%, we have to have the state’s support.”
Legislator Terry Neibel said he would be voting no against the amendment due to state representatives indicating there isn’t time to make changes to the resolution.
The amendment failed 3 to 14 with just Legislators Bob Bankoski, Tom Nelson, and Susan Parker voting yes. Legislators then unanimously passed the resolution.
County Executive PJ Wendel said the change in allocation should not affect the Watershed Coordinator position, “We’ve already made changes and corrections. You might see some increases in departmental budgets now. We’re looking for the best places to put some salary for Dave McCoy. He’s not living lavishly, but it’s where do we find that salary and do we take it from two different departments, do we put it in one.”
The extension of the 5% occupancy tax goes through the end of 2025.