OSWEGO, NY – In an effort to bolster the city’s flagging revenues, the Oswego Common Council will seek authorization from the state to implement a bed tax in the Port City.
Council President Ron Kaplewicz brought the matter up for discussion at Monday’s Administrative Services Committee meeting.
There are three primary purposes for such a tax (General Fund, Economic Development or Tourism), he explained.
“I know in Oswego County’s case, the bed tax that they collect is used exclusively for tourism,” he said.
In 2012, they collected somewhere around $368,000, he said. The city of Oswego contributed about $219,000 to that figure, he added.
“That is 61 percent at the three percent level,” he said. “That is what we could expect if we went to a three percent bed tax surcharge on behalf of the city.”
It is “a tax,” he admitted. However, it isn’t a “residential tax” it is a “non-residential tax,” he pointed out.
“This is a way to generate revenue from folks who come and visit the city of Oswego,” Kaplewicz said. “It’s not at the expense of our taxpayers.”
When the matter was first broached at a previous committee meeting earlier this spring, there was some concern that an additional tax could actually hurt business for Oswego hotels. People may opt to stay elsewhere to avoid paying any extra.
The loss last year of tax revenue from NRG “was a huge hit for us,” he said, adding they had to raise taxes because of that.
The councilor admits it will be an uphill battle to get this through at the state level.
The city would like to implement a bed tax of up to five percent.
They’d use it to augment the General Fund. And, it would “sunset” in three years. The council would then have to seek re-authorization to continue it.
Senator Patty Ritchie has urged the city to have a resolution in place by the end of this month so they can begin the process on the state level.
The full council will discuss the proposal at next week’s meeting.