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Seneca supervisors will debate increasing occupancy tax to 5%

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  • Staff Report 

The Seneca County Board of Supervisors is set to discuss a potential increase in its room occupancy tax during committee meetings tonight.

The board’s Economic Development & Tourism Committee will convene at 5:30 p.m. in the county Office Building to consider a motion asking local state lawmakers to introduce home rule bills in the Senate and Assembly to amend the room occupancy tax, allowing for a rise to 5%.

The room occupancy tax was first introduced at 3% in 1982 and increased to 4% in 2002. Since then, the county has requested every five years for the state to maintain it at 4%, which it has agreed to. The proposed increase is intended to strengthen Seneca County’s ability to promote tourism and invest in tourism-related infrastructure, according to the motion.

All proceeds from the tax are designated for tourism promotion, with the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce receiving the majority of the revenue as the county’s designated tourism promotion agency. The board also allocates some funds as grants for specific tourism-related projects.

In addition to the occupancy tax increase, the committee will also consider a resolution to take $10,000 from the board’s discretionary tourism promotion and development account, funded by the room tax, and allocate it to the town of Covert. The town has requested the funds to cover its share of seed money for a local/state partnership to acquire Boy Scout Camp Barton on the west shore of Cayuga Lake.

The Public Safety Committee will also consider a resolution introducing a new local law to waive the current residency requirement for deputy sheriffs. Currently, deputies must reside in Seneca County, but the proposed change would allow them to live in neighboring counties. The motion states that finding competent and qualified persons to fill positions as deputies has become a serious concern, and waiving the residency requirement would substantially increase recruitment opportunities.

If the motion passes both the committee and the full board, a public hearing on the proposed local law would be conducted on April 11th at 6 p.m.