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Four Assemblymen Call On Cuomo To Authorize Municipal Occupancy Fees

Four state lawmakers have sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking him to make good on his promise of signing bills authorizing the establishment of municipal occupancy taxes in certain Westchester County and Orange County communities.
Four state lawmakers have sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking him to make good on his promise of signing bills authorizing the establishment of municipal occupancy taxes in certain Westchester County and Orange County communities. Photo Credit: file photo

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Four local lawmakers have written to Gov. Andrew Cuomo reminding him of his promise to sign legislation authorizing the imposition of municipal occupancy fees in certain Westchester and Orange communities.

In a letter dated Thursday, Dec. 29, the members of the state Assembly noted that in late 2015, the governor had vetoed a series of hotel occupancy tax bills that would have affected 13 municipalities in Westchester County – Greenburgh, North Castle, Tarrytown, Irvington, Ardsley, Elmsford, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson, Sleepy Hollow, Tuckahoe, Mamaroneck, Harrison and Port Chester – and one in Orange County, Woodbury.

The vetoes, at that time, were slammed by local elected officials, according to media reports.

The letter was signed by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, who represents the 88th District; Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, D-Tarrytown,  92nd District; Assemblyman David Buchwald, D-White Plains, 93rd District; and James Skoufis, D-Woodbury, 99th District.

The original legislation was sponsored in the Senate by state Sen. George Latimer, D-Rye, and state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers. In the Assembly, the bills were sponsored by Abinanti, Buchwald, Skoufis and Paulin, Skoufis said Thursday.

The tax would create an alternate funding source for municipalities, they said.

The law would have imposed a 3 percent tax on each hotel room stay. This would have been in addition to the 3 percent room tax Westchester County already collects.

“Subsequent to last year’s vetoes, the Assembly included our occupancy fee legislation as Article XII language in its 2016 one-house budget,” the Dec. 29 letter read.

“During negotiations that ensued, your office sought to detach the occupancy fee issue from the budget but agreed to approve the bills if passed again post-budget,” it continued.

The bills were sent to the governor’s office on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Cuomo has until Saturday, Dec. 31, to sign them, Skoufis said.

The signers also noted that the bills are in sync with Cuomo’s efforts to reduce the property tax burden on homeowners.

(Cuomo himself lives in Westchester. His zip code is Mount Kisco, but his home is physically located in New Castle.)

Much of the additional revenue will be generated by out-of-state visitors and the fees will support local governmental operations, they wrote.

“Meaningful property tax relief will result from your signing these bills,” their missive to the governor concluded.

It was not known Thursday if the senators had sent a similar letter. Gov. Cuomo’s office could not be reached for comment.

As for whether the bills will be signed, "Stay tuned," said Skoufis.

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