LOWVILLE — Lewis County residents are welcome to weigh in on a proposed change and an addition to county laws in public hearings to be held prior to the Board of Legislators meeting on Tuesday.
The change proposed to the “bed tax” law, also referred to as an “occupancy tax,” would cover all short-term rentals instead of just the hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts mentioned in the original law.
Included under the extension are any private homes, cabins, cottages, camps, rooms and any other accommodation rented out for a fee for less than 30 days, including those booked and billed through online forums like Airbnb and Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO).
The tax would be added to the nightly charges paid by the room guest, not charged to the property owner. However, the property owner will be responsible for documenting his or her room rentals and the bed tax collected as well as forwarding the tax to the county treasurer’s office.
Some legislators said in their October meeting that they feel conflicted about charging anyone another tax of any kind and that they feel property owners should be able to do anything they want with their property without being taxed.
Others said they believe the change to the tax is the only fair thing to do because independent property owners are competitive with the official establishments, like hotels and motels, required to charge the tax under the existing law written in 2004 before the advent of the online applications that have changed the vacation rental dynamic in the past few years.
The public will also be allowed to comment on the proposed Energize NY Open C-Pace financing program, which will provide a funding alternative to traditional loans for energy efficiency upgrades or renewable energy projects to commercial, multifamily residential or nonprofit properties.
The Energy Improvement Corporation is a statewide local development corporation and non-profit organization that administers the Energize NY financing program on behalf of 20 participating municipalities, including seven counties and 13 townships or cities.
Unlike traditional loans, financing up to 100 percent of the project cost is available for terms from five years to the expected lifespan of the improvements, which is generally 30 years.
In the case of a default, municipal taxes would be paid before the “benefit assessment lien” on the property before any other liens.
According to information on the Energize NY website, the benefit of the program to participating municipalities is that there are no fees to join and Energy Improvement takes care of all of the administration for the program, including recording liens, billing the property owner and collecting payments.
Projects eligible for the funding include lighting upgrades, HVAC systems, door and window upgrades, insulation and renewable energy projects like solar panels, geothermal heat pumps and wind turbines, among others.
To learn more about the Energize NY Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program, go to energizeny.org.
People wishing to speak at either hearing should arrive at the legislative board meeting in the Lewis County Courthouse, 7660 N. State St., second floor, by 5 p.m.