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Hotel Association Calls for Rejection of Proposed Greenburgh Hotel Room Tax

3% Levy On Top of County and State Taxes Will Undercut Hotels,
Motels and Inns in the Town and Its Villages

(March 17, 2011) --The Westchester Hotel Association, which represents 31 hotels, inns and conference centers across Westchester County, today voiced strong opposition to planned hotel room occupancy taxes that are being proposed in the Town of Greenburgh and a growing number of communities across the county. 

The group specifically cited a proposed 3 percent tax proposed for the unincorporated areas of Greenburgh as well as the villages that fall within its borders that have hotels or motels including Tarrytown, Elmsford and Ardsley. The town is home to nearly a dozen hotels including such major properties as the Westchester Marriott, Tarrytown House Estate & Conference Center and the Doubletree by Hilton at Tarrytown, as well as such well-known brands as Sheraton, Marriott Courtyard and Embassy Suites and boutique properties such as Castle on the Hudson.
Separate versions of the Greenburgh tax have been proposed in the State Assembly by Assemblyman Tom Abinanti and in the Senate by Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. The language of the two versions is waiting to be reconciled so that it is the same in both, a relatively easy procedure. The legislation also requires that the Greenburgh Town Board pass a “Home Rule Message” that is required for the State Legislature to act, a step the local board has not yet taken.
Dan Conte, General Manager of the Westchester Marriott Hotel on Route 119 in Greenburgh and President of the Westchester Hotel Association, said the trade group was deeply concerned about the accelerating trend across the county for local municipalities to tap into the hotel industry for additional tax revenues. The City of White Plains passed a tax within the last two years, the Village of Rye Brook took a similar step last year, the Village of Mamaroneck is looking to place a room tax on the two small motels within its borders and the City of Peekskill has gotten the go-ahead for a tax that it has not yet imposed.

“The hotels are an easy target,” Conte said. “To elected officials hungry for additional revenues, they see our members as just businesses that don’t account for a lot of voters who complain or vote against them. What they apparently fail to see is that we are one of the largest sectors in the Westchester economy. We pay major local real estate taxes and that hitting us with new taxes that are paid by our guests has negative business consequences.”

Conte explained that while the public typically sees the hotel industry not as a whole but as individual sites, the collective size and scope of the business is substantial in Westchester. “Our 31 members account for 5,340 guest rooms and employ more than 2,500 workers. This makes us one of the largest sectors in the county’s economy. The last two years have been very challenging for all of us due to recession-related cutbacks in business travel and corporate meetings. We’re finally seeing some signs of a comeback, but it is still far from robust. That’s why adding taxes that further inflate the bills our customers pay is counter-productive at best,” Conte said.

The Hotel Association points out that local room occupancy taxes like the one being planned by Greenburgh shouldn’t be viewed in isolation. There is already a 3 percent county room occupancy tax as well as state and local sales taxes that bring the total room tax to close to over 10 percent across Westchester. For the dozen hotels and motels in Greenburgh, the added town/village tax would bring the total room tax to nearly 14 percent.

“Westchester is not an isolated market,” Conte concluded. “We are in direct competition with hotels in Manhattan, Connecticut, Rockland and Northern New Jersey. Adding another tax only serves to undercut our competitive position. It is a short-sighted approach that may seem like an easy financial hit for the local municipalities, but it is anti-business. We are calling on the Greenburgh Town Board to reject this approach and for our state legislators to avoid the temptation to add to the tax burden we are already carrying.”

Dan Conte
 Westchester Hotel Association
  (914) 333-1200


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