Schenectady County legislators are again seeking state approval to increase its hotel and motel room occupancy tax rate to help support the county's tourism promotions.
The County Legislature on Tuesday approved a resolution asking the state Legislature to grant its permission to increase the county's room occupancy tax from four percent to five percent.
It is the third consecutive year the county has made the request. In previous years, the request has died in the late days of the state legislative session.
"We're hopeful," said county spokesman Joe McQueen.
The bills, introduced as "home rule" legislation by Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, and state Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, are currently in committee in both chambers of the Legislature.
County leaders began discussing the increase in 2016, based the opening of the Rivers Casino & Resort and new hotels nearby, and increased efforts by the county to promote Schenectady County as a tourism destination. A county Tourism and Convention Bureau was formed in late 2016, and has been in operation as Discover Schenectady since 2017.
The room tax, by legislation, is totally dedicated to promoting tourism and the arts, McQueen said. Of the revenue it brings in, $200,000 goes to Proctors to support its arts programs, while $50,000 goes toward a program of small arts and events grants administered by the county, with the balance paying for Discover Schenectady.
County officials have estimated a one percentage point increase in the tax would bring in an additional $175,000 or more.