By Ned Campbell
Clifton Park- A bill that would allow the town of Clifton Park to levy a hotel bed tax, money it would use to support the town’s booming hotel industry, was vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this week.
“The Legislature has historically advanced occupancy tax bills for only counties and cities, except in one prior circumstance,” Cuomo said in his veto memo, which didn’t name the sole exception. “This is because authorizing new local taxes would exacerbate the current patchwork system of overlapping state and local hotel taxes.”
It would also be inconsistent with the state’s ongoing efforts to encourage consolidation among towns and villages, the governor’s memo states.
The new tax would amount to 1.5 percent and be on top of the 1-percent bed tax already levied by Saratoga County. Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said it would have raised an estimated $300,000 in 2017, which would be used to promote the area as a destination and for physical improvements in a hotel district forming around Exit 9.
Local hotel management were supportive of the tax, as was the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County, Barrett said. Both groups worked with the town to form a Hospitality Committee, which would determine where the funds were spent, he said, also noting that none of money generated from the new tax would go to the general fund.
Barrett also said the town does not see any revenue as a result of the county’s 1-percent bed tax, which he said is used for economic development and does not directly benefit the town.
“It’s a unique structure for these types of programs, and one that we believe can be a successful model for the future,” he said of the proposed tax. “Our proposal does not create a new bureaucracy or layer of government — funds would be invested directly in the community.”
The town is home to 710 hotel rooms, which will increase to nearly 1,000 once the LaQuinta Inn under construction on Route 9 opens. The Exit 9 area has seen a spike in hotel rooms in recent years with the development of a cluster of hotels now offering new lodging options between Wolf Road in Colonie and Saratoga Springs.
The new tax would have brought the total room tax to 2.5 percent, which is still less than the 6-percent total room tax in Saratoga Springs, the 6 percent tax in Albany County, and the 4 percent tax in Schenectady County.
“There’s a huge gap in the cost of a hotel room in Clifton Park compared to everyone else, which is fine,” Barrett said. “We do everything we can to try to provide a competitive advantage.”
Reach Gazette reporter Ned Campbell at 395-3142, firstname.lastname@example.org or @nedcampbell on Twitter.