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'Bed tax' likely to be renewed

Niagara County is preparing to renew the 4 percent "bed tax" it charges on hotel and motel bills to help fund the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp.

The current law authorizing the tax expires May 1, Assistant County Attorney R. Thomas Burgasser said last week.

The new law would keep the tax in effect for the next three years, Burgasser said.

The renewal already has been passed by one County Legislature committee, with the Administration Committee expected to take up the matter Tuesday.

The current timeline calls for a public hearing and final passage of the renewal March 17.

John Percy, president of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., said his agency received about $94,000 from the county tax during 2008.

"They have consistently risen from year to year," Percy said.

The county tax is assessed only on hotels outside the cities of Niagara Falls and Lockport, which impose their own taxes on hotel and motel bills.

Percy said the NTCC receives 95 percent of the county's tax, 80 percent of Niagara Falls' tax and 75 percent of Lockport's.

The county's tax take is a far cry from that of Niagara Falls, which sent the NTCC more than $800,000 in 2008, Percy said.

He also said the county's payment in 2008 was magnified because it included some leftovers that actually were collected in 2007. The county treasurer's office did not respond to a request for figures Friday.

Burgasser said three years is as long as the county legally can impose the tax before having to renew it. He said no State Legislature is needed to impose the bed tax, unlike the case with a sales tax increase.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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