The Town of Newburgh is once again kicking around an idea first proposed more than a decade ago: a five percent sales tax on hotel and motel occupancy within the town.
Supervisor Gil Piaquadio said the idea was first proposed by the late Town Councilman George Woolsey in 2010. He likes the idea so much, he said the bill introduced by the town could be known as the George Woolsey bill.
“It would generate revenue for the town,” Piaquadio said at a public hearing last week. “It would not tax local residents.”
But state approval was required for the town to impose the sales tax, and it was not forthcoming at the time. A few years ago, though, Orange County successfully imposed a five percent sales tax on top of the existing state tax and as of January 1 of this year, municipalities in Orange County now have the ability to impose an additional five percent, thanks to bills introduced by State Senator James Skoufis (D-Woodbury) and Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson (D-Newburgh). The Towns of Wallkill and Woodbury have already followed suit.
“I think all the other towns are going to be raising them as well,” said Councilman Anthony LoBiondo.
If adopted, the state, county and town sales tax would total 18.125 percent of the hotel bill. That total seemed a bit high to at least one person listening in to the public hearing via ZOOM.
“I’m wondering how I’m going to present this to my customers,” said Martin Milano, owner of the Hampton Inn and Suites at 1 Crossroads Court.
Milano said most neighboring municipalities will have a lower sales tax, and that may keep people away from the Town of Newburgh. New Windsor, for example, has. 13 percent sales tax.
Milano said many of his customers are business travelers, not vacationers, who could just as easily stay at a hotel in New Windsor or another neighboring town.
“If people know the taxes aren’t that high and we’re not on a beach,” Milano said, “they may decide to go to New Paltz… or Port Jervis.”
And while the targets of the sales tax are not local residents, Milano said it will indirectly impact the town: his property will decrease in value if his business drops off, and he’ll have fewer customers to patronize local restaurants and other businesses.
The board took no action after the close of the public hearing. Town Clerk Joseph Pedi said town board action is not expected before the scheduled July 12 meeting. Because the meeting was conducted virtually, he said, the public has 10 days after the publication of the meeting transcript to provide written comments. That publication was not expected to be completed prior to this week.