Legislators Discuss Sales, Bed Tax

MAYVILLE – A half of a percent of sales tax represents an additional $6 million in revenue for the county.

On Thursday, the County Legislature Audit and Control Committee discussed the 7.5 percent county sales tax and the .5 percent renewal. The state Legislature has legislation pending that would authorize the continuation of the additional .5 percent of sales tax for two more years. The County Legislature needs to support the legislation prior to the state passing the continuation.

County Executive Greg Edwards said the .5 percent represents $6 million more in revenue for the county. He said if it wasn’t for the revenue generated by the .5 percent in sales tax, the $6 million in revenue would need to be collected through county property taxes.

”This is not a new tax, and it is less than it was eight years ago,” he said.

Edwards said the renewal is an obligation the county has to go through every two years to get the state’s approval to have the additional .5 percent. The county executive said about $2 million of the $6 million generated in sales tax goes to the cities, towns and villages in the county. He said Jamestown receives between $800,000 to $900,000 a year in revenue from the additional sales tax. The committee supported the resolution, and it will now be voted on by the full legislature at its next meeting Wednesday.

In other business, the committee discussed changing how bed tax revenue is allocated. The change would increase the amount of occupancy tax revenue given to non-county trail establishment and development projects from 7.5 to 9 percent. The new proposal would also include $20,000 of the 9 percent being provided to the Chautauqua County Snowmobile Federation each year to maintain and groom snowmobile trails.

Ray Head and Paul Weatherlow, representing the Snowmobile Federation, spoke to the committee members about the economic impact snowmobiling has in Chautauqua County.

”We’re the No. 3 destination for people coming to the state to go snowmobiling,” Head said.

He said the Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile club has 2,000 members, which is the largest club in the state. He added 75 percent of club members live out of state. He said that is a lot of bed tax money being generated from out-of-state residents when they stay in local businesses to go snowmobiling.

”Our economic impact is significant,” Head said.

The other change in the proposal is how occupancy tax is allocated for the development of attractions, events and visitor experiences that enhance the county as a point of destination. The proposal would lower revenue for this allocation from 7.5 percent to 6 percent.

The committee approved the proposed changes, and it will also be voted on by the full legislature Wednesday.

Edwards was asked by legislator John Runkle, R-Cassadaga, about interest from a new buyer for the County Home. Edwards said he is in serious discussions with someone about purchasing the County Home, but no official proposal has been made. He said, hopefully, the conversation will lead to a contract offer.