Yates County Legislators have unanimously agreed to renew the local law that established the 4 percent occupancy tax that was first effective Jan. 1, 2008. District II Legislator Timothy Dennis recalled the conflicts that arose 12 years ago when lawmakers first proposed collecting a local tax on lodging. He said as a result, the county has returned $350,000 per year for tourism promotion efforts, and the local property tax burden has been reduced by about $250,000 annually because of the revenue.
Only one person spoke during the public hearing regarding the law. Lisa Salotto, who owns a rental property in the Town of Italy about four miles from Canandaigua Lake says she has to compete with properties in Ontario County, where there is no occupancy tax. She suggested that consideration - perhaps a reduced rate for annual membership in the Yates County Chamber of Commerce — should be given to properties like hers.
She also suggested that the county could work with Air BNB to collect the tax so property owners wouldn’t be responsible.
Acting Administrator Nonie Flynn said in the past, unlike other counties in New York, Yates County did not use AirBNB to collect the tax because AirBNB would not share the address information on the rental properties. That’s a detail Yates County needs to calculate the correct amount to share with the village of Penn Yan. The worker in the county treasurer’s office who called AirBNB learned that the company’s practices had changed. Flynn said AirBNB is now willing to share the addresses with Yates County. Now the treasurer’s office will work with the company to begin collecting the tax which will be sent to the county quarterly. She said this new process will be helpful for the treasurer’s office.
At the beginning of the meeting, Gene Pierce, a member of the county’s Tourism Advisory Committee gave a presentation about the use of the $309,889 in 2018 tourism promotions funds that were granted to 11 projects or organizations: Yates County Chamber of Commerce as Tourism Promotion Agency ($176,629); Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance ($21,860); Finger Lakes Wine Country ($67,500); Seneca Flight Operations - Mom’s 5K ($5,000); Arts Center of Yates County ($5,000); The Windmill ($3,000); Friends of the Outlet ($10,000); Dundee Scottish Festival ($1,000); Cornell Cooperative Extension - FL Farm Country ($5,000); Fox Run Vineyards ($12,500).
The aim of the funding is to increase the number of overnight visits to the county. According to a report by the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, which quoted data from an industry study of the 2017 economic impact of tourism, visitors spent $64 million in Yates County, and while the regional growth rate was 2.4 percent, the growth rate in Yates County was 4.5 percent.
Other business July 8 included:
• Airport Lighting: Legislators authorized Paddock to execute a grant agreement with the Federal Aviation Agency for airport lighting improvements. The total project cost is $137,393 and Yates County’s share is $6,869.