By ASHLEY HELMS
In order to bring in more revenue through ways other than property taxes, the Village of Mamaroneck is seeking approval from New York State to implement a hotel tax.
The village Board of Trustees approved support for a hotel tax at its Feb. 23 meeting. The law must be passed by the state Assembly and Senate, before being signed into law by the governor. The proposal would impose a 3 percent village hotel occupancy tax on patrons.
The state allows municipalities to pass additional laws to govern itself, such as a hotel tax, under home rule legislation. Since it has a three-year sunset clause, communities must seek authorization for the tax after the state has initially approved it.
The village attempted to pass a hotel tax law in 2011 and again in 2013, but the bill didn’t gain support from the state.
Standing in the way of communities’ ability to impose a hotel tax has been the governor.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, swore to not impose new taxes when he took office in 2011.
The Republican-led state Senate has also expressed opposition to the law due to its nature as a tax.
The state allowed the Village of Rye Brook to implement its own hotel tax in 2010, and now, with that precedent set, villages and towns in Westchester County are trying to impose the revenue generating tax that was originally intended only for counties and cities.
Village Manager Richard Slingerland said the village requested approval from the state for the tax in 2011, but the bill was vetoed by Gov. Cuomo due to his stance on new taxes. Slingerland said the hotel tax would net roughly $30,000 per year in non-property tax revenue, but it isn’t a major source of income.
“We have smaller-scale motels. I’m sure they don’t have the room count or impact that a larger hotel would have,” Slingerland said.
The village has two motels; Vincent and Son’s motel in Rye Neck and the Mamaroneck Motel on Boston Post Road.
Chris Bradbury, Rye Brook’s village administrator, said Rye Brook raked in roughly $240,000 in non-property tax revenue in 2010 from the Hilton Westchester on Westchester Avenue the first year the hotel tax was implemented. In 2014, Bradbury said it is anticipated that $630,000 in revenue will be generated.
Assemblyman Steve Otis, a Rye Democrat, said that up until 2006, when the City of Rye implemented its own tax, no municipalities in the state had a hotel tax. Otis was serving as mayor of the city at the time as well as state Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer’s chief of staff.
He said there is also a Westchester County hotel tax of 3 percent that is charged to guests. The revenue from this goes to the county and is separate from the community’s specific tax.
“Its hard to pass, but the benefit is that they reduce what property taxes tax payers have to pay,” Otis said.
State Sen. George Latimer, a Rye Democrat who is sponsoring a hotel tax bill in the Senate for the Town of Harrison and the Village of Mamaroneck, said that, even though the Republican-led Senate doesn’t want to raise taxes, the economic advantage is that the Village of Mamaroneck won’t have to rely as much on property taxes to bring in revenue. This will lessen the chances a municipality will have to raise property taxes or cut services as much, Latimer said.
Since many of the communities surrounding the village, except for Harrison, impose a tax, including New Rochelle, White Plains, Rye Brook and the City of Rye, Latimer said village hotel owners won’t have to worry about losing business to other locations that don’t impose a tax. According to Latimer, the bill to impose the tax will be voted on by the state legislature in June.
“It will help restrain property taxes and it’ll be an added revenue benefit…I’m going to keep pushing this bill until we get it done,” Latimer said.
Harrison attempted to impose a tax on its two hotels—the Renaissance Westchester Hotel on West Red Oak Lane and the Hyatt House on Corporate Park Drive—in January, marking the town’s fourth attempt at approving the tax in the past few years.