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Lemondes Defends Decision Not to Support Auburn Bed Tax


Assemblyman John Lemondes is defending his decision not to support Auburn’s bid to create a hotel occupancy tax.

While the assemblyman had previously supported similar proposals for Weedsport and Skaneateles, speaking on FLX Morning with Ted Baker, Lemondes said that while Weedsport and Skaneateles residents supported bed taxes, Auburn residents did not.

“In Auburn, I got mostly people saying ‘We don’t need this, we don’t want it. It will hurt us,’ and it will. And so, the circumstances of all three were completely different,” said Lemondes.

Both Lemondes and State Senator Rachel May needed to support the city’s request to create the tax. While May almost immediately supported Auburn’s request, Lemondes announced last month that he would not, effectively killing the city’s chances of establishing a hotel occupancy tax.

Due to Lemondes’ failure to support the home rule request, City Council needed to amend its proposed city budget last week before voting on its adoption to account for the loss of revenue projected from the tax. Before the vote, members of the council expressed their dissatisfaction over Lemondes’ decision with Councilor Ginny Kent calling it “a slap in the face.”

The city had previously estimated that it could raise $500,000 per year from the tax, with the funds going into the general operating fund to offset tourism costs occurring due to increased tourism to History’s Hometown.

Mayor Jimmy Giannettino had previously told Finger Lakes News Radio that Lemondes never informed the council of his decision; they found out through a press release. Before the budget vote, he said Lemondes owed him an explanation as to his decision.

“[Lemondes] may not like me; he may not like the way I represent the city, but I was chosen by the people of this city to represent them and he owes this office an explanation as to why he’s treating us differently than Skaneateles and Weedsport,” said Giannettino.

According to Lemondes, he’s extended an olive branch to Auburn’s government.

My last statement to the mayor was I hope we can work together and move forward together,” said Lemondes. “From my perspective, that’s an extension of an olive branch which is always the right thing to do and I hope they take me up on it.”

A hotel occupancy tax, also known as a room tax or bed tax, is a tax on each night’s stay at a hotel, motel, or short-term rental.

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