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LEGISLATURE PANEL DELAYS ACTION ON BED TAX

A 3 percent bed tax has been put to bed once again in Chautauqua County. The resolution was tabled by the county's Planning and Economic Development Committee last week.

Committee Chairwoman Jane Fagerstrom said the committee is waiting to see if the county receives some federal help through the offices of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., that would be useful in meeting any budget deficits.

Nearly $4.4 million in aid, including $2.5 million in Medicaid relief, has been approved by the U.S. Senate but is hung up in the House.

Fagerstrom wants to see what happens before taking any action on a possible hotel occupancy tax, known as a bed tax.

"The bed tax resolution for 3 percent has been tabled pending the results of Sen. Schumer's local aid allocation to Chautauqua County, which we are hoping to have as additional revenue," she said last week. "We will wait to see how that will help out with the county's budget shortfall."

Jamestown Legislator Joseph Trusso, author of the original bed tax proposal, predicts that an extra 3 percent tax would generate between $600,00 and $800,000 per year for the county coffers.

Trusso said he will wait until June to bring the proposal up again for a vote. If it passes, he said, he will ask that the state tack on another 2 percentage points, to make it a 5 percent bed tax, which he has wanted all along.

"I want to try to get the 3 percent now, and then ask the State Legislature to raise it by 2 (percentage points), and then we'll have our 5 percent. But we need this money now and we cannot wait for it. The tourist season will begin soon, and that's when we'll get the most money from it."

The tax would be charged to every customer at hotels, motels, inns and other lodging businesses. Trusso stressed that he wants the bed tax in lieu of an increase in the property tax.

The Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau is against a bed tax, saying that it may drive tourists away.

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