County considers raising bed tax to pay for roads


 COOPERSTOWN — Otsego County should consider raising its bed tax to pay for road improvements, Rep. Pete Oberacker told the Board of Representatives at its monthly meeting, Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 197 Main St. in Cooperstown.

Oberacker, R-Decatur, Maryland, Westford, Worcester, the chair of the Public Works Committee, told the board during his committee report, that he thought hotel fees would not discourage tourism.

Oberacker said he recently went to Starkville, Mississippi, on business and paid nearly $30 in local fees. The fees came after he booked his room, and he never thought twice about not booking after seeing them, he said.

Oberacker said the county maintains 475 miles of roads. A fee that generates $1 million from tourism would dramatically change the county’s repaving schedule, he said, slicing years off the road repair cycle.

“It really takes the burden off the local taxpayer,” Oberacker said.

The county already charges a 4% bed tax on hotels, motels, B&Bs, Airbnb and other short-term rentals. Part of that money goes to the Destination Marketing Corporation of Otsego County, the public-private company that replaced the county’s tourism department in 2014.

DMCOC’s contract with Otsego County is up for renewal this fall, which was also discussed Wednesday. The company has recently won a bid with Schoharie County for a similar tourism effort.

Some representatives expressed concern for Otsego County’s interests. However, others lauded the success of the new business in growing and pointed out that the Schoharie contract would also fund a dedicated staff person. A lack of hotels in Schoharie County and the proximity of Sharon Springs and Cobleskill to Otsego County hotels was also discussed.

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