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Amherst vote seeking share of county bed tax fails

Amherst is eyeing a piece of the Erie County bed tax.

The problem on Monday was that town officials couldn’t agree on how exactly to broach the topic with the county so – at least for now – they won’t. But don’t be surprised if the issue comes up again.

Erie County imposes a bed tax of 5 percent for hotels with 30 rooms or more and 3 percent for those with fewer than 30 rooms. In 2012, for example, the county pocketed $8.8 million in revenue from the bed tax, said Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein.

Weinstein said he would like to get a coalition of local governments to approach the State Legislature about adding 1 percent to the bed tax to be shared among the localities with hotels. The supervisor, in part, raised the issue in light of the recent hotel boom in the area.

At least 26 new hotels – more than 2,000 rooms – have been proposed for the Buffalo Niagara region over the next five years.

However, Councilmember Guy R. Marlette – who is running for County Legislature – said he couldn’t support the idea of raising the bed tax even if most of those impacted by an increase are from out of town. Instead, Marlette amended the supervisor’s resolution to ask Erie County to share 1 percent of the bed tax with its municipalities.

Weinstein, a former County Legislator, already knows the answer will be “No.”

So the board was deadlocked: Weinstein and Councilmember Ramona D. Popowich voted in favor of pursuing a 1 percent increase to the bed tax, while Marlette and Councilmember Steven D. Sanders agreed to ask Erie County to share 1 percent – despite that unlikelihood.

The tie-breaker Monday would have been Councilmember Mark A. Manna – but he was absent from the meeting.