State legislation that would allow the town to collect a 1.5 percent room occupancy tax from hotels in the commercial area around Northway Exit 9 has been approved by the state Legislature.
Bills allowing for the local tax were adopted in both the state Senate and Assembly in the final hours of the legislative session last Friday, and now await signature by the governor.
“This is a great example of an upstate economic development initiative,” said Town Supervisor Phil Barrett, noting that the money collected will be used for improvements in the growing “hotel district” that has developed around the Northway exit.
The area around the exit now has 710 hotel rooms, many of them added in the last decade. That total is expected to exceed 1,000 rooms by sometime next year.
As a hotel district, the area benefits from proximity to Schenectady, Albany, Saratoga Springs and the GlobalFoundires computer chip plant in Malta, while generally having lower room rates.
A 1.5-percent town room tax would be on top of Saratoga County’s existing 1 percent tax. Within the county, only Saratoga Springs has a local room tax.
The tax revenue, estimated at around $300,000 per year, would be used to promote the area as a visitor destination and to pay for the infrastructure like sidewalks and crosswalks that Exit 9 is going to need as it becomes more like a traditional pedestrian-friendly “downtown.”
The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County would manage promotion efforts, and working with the town it has organized a committee of hotel representatives to recommend how the money should be spent.
The bill has yet to be sent toGov. Andrew Cuomo’s office for review and a decision on whether to sign or veto it.
A separate “home rule” bill that would have allowed the town to take ownership of the Saratoga County-owned Kinns Road Park failed to be voted on in the Assembly, however, killing that plan for this year. The Senate did adopt it last week.
The town and county have agreed on transfer of the 63-acre property, which has functioned as a town park since the 1970s despite being owned by the county. Because the state originally gave the land to the county in 1940, the transfer requires legislative approval.
The town and county agreed to the land transfer last winter, following public and town opposition to a county plan to selectively log the property.
The parties last winter signed a management agreement that will allow the town to manage the land until the transfer can take place. It will remain in effect.
Barrett said he expects the home rule bill to be reintroduced in the 2017 legislative session.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.
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Categories: Business, News, Schenectady County