Jeffrey D. Berkman, Legislator
20 th Legislative District
Tel: (845) 291-4800 Fax: (845)291-4809
The Orange County Executive and Legislature recently approved a new tax on hotels, motels, bed and breakfast guest homes and other overnight accommodations. A 5% county tax will soon be added to the current 8.125% sales tax, for a total of 13.125% for each bill.
I voted in opposition to this new tax because it is excessive and did not creatively plan for the use of the revenue collected. Other counties that initiated this new revenue generating tax started at a lower rate than a 5% share. Also, as a recent letter to the editor written by a bed and breakfast owner stated; many small businesses will not be able to pass this increase on to the out of town customers.
Why don't we require a portion of this new tax revenue to be utilized for promotion of Orange County tourism? This provides opportunities for strengthening our local economy. Why don't we work to encourage our out of county guests to visit us, enjoy all of our county's natural attributes, and spend their dollars in our economy by saying “Stay in Orange County, and don't pay an additional 5% more on your bill”. I posed those questions in a public hearing on this subject. With my legislative colleges, I will review the use of this revenue in the upcoming budget planning process. It is understandable that those in government with responsibility for imposing taxes would seek to have out of county residents pay, but better planning for revenues collected and accurate forecasting of the negative consequences placed on Orange County businesses need to more fully be addressed.