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Auburn Asks Cayuga County to Share Bed Tax Revenue

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Auburn is asking Cayuga County to share a portion of its hotel occupancy tax with the city.

Auburn City Council voted unanimously Thursday on a resolution to send a request to the Cayuga County Legislature asking it to split the tax revenue collected from short-term rentals within Auburn’s municipal boundaries with the city. The city would use the money to assist in funding its Historic and Cultural Sites Commission tourism promotion and development programs.

Currently, the city has a 5% hotel occupancy tax. Also known as a bed or room tax, the tax is on each night’s stay at a hotel, motel, or Airbnb-style rental. Revenue generated from the tax is used for tourism development and promotion for the entire county.

Before the vote, county representatives were at the city council meeting to speak during the public to be heard portion of the meeting, giving their opinion on the request and the relationship between the city and the county.

Stephanie DeVito, who represents county legislative district 10 in the city said that, while she supports the city’s cultural and historic sites, she doesn’t believe splitting the tax is the best way to support them.

“In my mind, it’s not that I don’t have support for the historic and cultural sites; I’m not necessarily in agreement of how we should subside these historic and cultural sites and I think there’s a better opportunity for the county to support these historic and cultural sites in a different manner,” said DeVito.

Legislator Brian Muldrow (District 10) echoed DeVito, stating that he would support a grant process for historic sites throughout the county.

The final person to speak during the public to be heard was Legislature Chairwoman Aileen McNabb-Coleman, she said that she is hopeful the city and council can work together on a solution to the city’s financial concerns that doesn’t require changing the county’s tax law.

City Clerk Chuck Mason pointed out that the request was a formality, putting the city’s request into the public record ahead of the county’s April 23 public hearing before the legislature votes on whether or not to renew or change the occupancy tax.

Before City Council voted, Mayor Jimmy Giannettino and the council expressed their desire to discuss the matter further with the county.

“This is the beginning of a conversation,” said Councilor Terry Cuddy.

“I’ve always felt that decisions made by the City of Auburn intended to improve our city should never hurt Cayuga County and, in fact, whenever possible, should improve the county,” said Councilor Ginny Kent, “and at the same time, decisions made by Cayuga County to improve the county should never hurt the City of Auburn and whenever possible should improve our city.”

The county’s tourism office estimates that sharing the tax revenue with the city will result in a 27% decrease in the tourism office’s operating budget, reducing its operations.

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