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Sleepy Hollow Seeks Money Through Hotel Occupancy Tax

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – A hotel occupancy tax is the perfect solution for raising revenues in these down economic times because it wouldn't affect property owners, Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell said.

“There are hotel occupancy taxes in many cities around the state,” he said.

The six villages of Greenburgh, the Town of Greenburgh and the Village of Sleepy Hollow are working together to get the New York State Legislature to grant a home rule request so they would have the authority to impose a 3 percent tax on people who stay in hotel or motel rooms in their municipalities. A portion of the tax, about one-sixth, would be used to fund tourism and economic development, Fixell said.

Assembly member Tom Abinanti (D-Greenburgh) has proposed legislation in Albany regarding the issue. The affected areas are now working to pass resolutions requesting the tax. Sleepy Hollow will vote on the issue during its Tuesday Board of Trustees meeting.

Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray noted that the village doesn't have any hotels within its boundaries right now, but a future hotel is planned as part of the General Motors development.

“The special permit includes a hotel down at the southern end of the site,” he said.

Tarrytown first passed a resolution in support of a hotel occupancy tax bill in February 2010. Discussions with the hotel industry changed the bill so that a portion of the monies raised would help promote the area, Fixell said.

Although many cities in the state have been granted the right to tax hotel occupancies, Fixell noted it was unusual for a village to request the right.

“We don't know if it will in fact past, but we'd certainly like to have the option to do this,” he said.

Wray said he was in support of the tax, especially since it would fund developments with money that “doesn't come from the villagers or more importantly the village itself.”

“One of the things to keep in mind is that one of the ideas behind the hotel tax is not just taxing the out-of-towners and the people who come and use the rooms as a revenue source,” he said. “It's also often directed, or at least a portion of the taxes are directed, towards building and visitation efforts. So a portion of the tax is actually reserved for that and comes back and helps fund those kinds of efforts.”

Wray noted that the village has already begun to increase marketing efforts so that more people will want to visit Sleepy Hollow. He said he sees the hotel occupancy tax as a “long-term source of revenue for this.”

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