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Sep 16, 2009 4:49 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Legislature to consider hotel tax increase on Thursday

Sep 16, 2009 4:49 PM

Montauk hoteliers are furious that a proposed bill that would significantly increase the hotel and motel tax in Suffolk County, which had been scheduled for a vote three weeks from now, will appear before the County Legislature on Thursday.

The measure would increase the tax from 0.75 percent of the daily rental rate per room to 3 percent.

The timetable was moved forward after Legislator William Lindsay of Islip was able to get enough votes to release the bill from committee.

Mr. Lindsay represents the 8th Legislative District, home to the Vanderbilt Museum, which will receive a percentage of the revenue raised by the tax.

“It’s really bad, it comes at a terrible time,” said Legislator Jay Schneiderman of Montauk. “Apparently the county executive has been pushing to get this to the floor, and Bill Lindsay seems to be in quite a hurry to get this thing approved. But the money that’s being collected is helping the Vanderbilt and Walt Whitman Museums and there is no dedicated stream helping the East End, places like the Montauk Lighthouse.”

The majority of Suffolk County’s hotels are located in Mr. Schneiderman’s district, but he said that he had not been consulted when the tax bill was drafted. “They could have made it a little easier to swallow by bringing in the industry,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

Hotel owners said they felt as though the legislature was trying to rush the bill through, without informing all their constituents, in order to avoid widespread protest. In 2004, the legislature proposed the same tax hike but dropped it after hotel owners organized a successful countywide campaign to explain their opposition.

“They’re trying to keep it under the radar without getting too many people worked up about it,” said Paul Monte, the owner of Gurney’s Inn in Montauk.

Ken Walles, the owner of the Oceanside Beach Resort in Montauk, said that the tax ultimately would be paid mostly by county residents, who, he said, are the most frequent users of East End hotels and motels. “As local legislators, they hide by saying this is a tax that will benefit people in our district, but it’s not going to be paid by people in our area,” Mr. Walles said. But 40 to 50 percent of the visitors to Montauk are from Suffolk County, he said, and at Gurney’s Inn, the percentage is closer to 60, according to Mr. Monte.

Mr. Monte also said that many studies, including one in New York City, had shown that when the government increases the hotel tax, eventually the tourism spending in the area decreases, which decreases sales tax revenues.

“They want to impact all of Suffolk County’s tourism just to support a couple museums and a hole in the county budget and that’s the just the wrong approach, it’s a very short-sighted approach,” said Mr. Monte. “They need to cut county spending, that’s what they need to do.”

Mr. Monte, Mr. Walles and Jim Zaborski, president of the Dune Management Company, were reached in a car on their way to a meeting of the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau on Wednesday afternoon. They said that they hoped to rally a group to attend the legislature’s meeting on Thursday morning to speak against the bill.

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They will just pass the couple of bucks onto the occupants. NYC tax is huge! If the eastern hotels are complaining they should try to accomodate the local year population and relax their 2-3 night minimums. I know a lot of folks could go out for a night for birthdays anniversaries etc but cant swing the extra time or money. I have no sympathy.
By North Sea Citizen (564), North Sea on Sep 16, 09 5:07 PM
This is very one-sided. It is not true that only 2 museums would benefit from this. Why didn't the reporter talk to The Parrish Museum, Guild Hall, the Childrens Musuem of the East End, Bay Street Theatre, Longhouse Reserve, Hamptons Film Festival, Bridgehampton Historical Society, the East End Arts Council, WLIU, and a host of other arts organizations that would ALSO benefit? The reporter should go to suffolkcountyny.gov -> Legislature -> online documents, and look up IR1614. Poor piece of ...more
By culturaladvocate (4), Brookhaven on Sep 16, 09 8:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
More fuel for the Separatist Movement! Peconic County NOW more than ever.
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Sep 16, 09 9:32 PM
It is time for tyhe voters to revolt and demand Peconic County for the entire east end. Aren't you all tired of paying for western Suffolk County's mistakes?
By Walt (292), Southampton on Sep 18, 09 6:16 PM
This is just another example of the gvt squezzing small business yet again.Stop Big GVT
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Sep 19, 09 7:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
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