ARMONK, N.Y. – When North Castle Town Supervisor Howard Arden visited Albany on Tuesday for a legislative lobbying session, he said he had three topics in mind:
- Burying wires
- Prevailing wages
- Hotel tax
Though Arden said he “realized very quickly that it was not the place to talk about burying wires,” the discussion of bringing a hotel tax to North Castle might have gained some traction.
Under current New York state law, cities can have a hotel tax but towns and villages cannot, unless a legislative act is passed allowing them to do so.
“One town - which is Rye Brook, actually - somehow in the past got it through. So they’re the only town in New York that charges hotel tax,” said Arden at Wednesday night's Town Board meeting.
“And they generate about $650,000 a year for their town through the hotel tax, which is 3 percent of the bill,” he said.
Arden estimated that, based on the one hotel in North Castle (La Quinta Inn & Suites in Armonk), a tax “would generate about $125,000 a year for us, if we were able to get this through.”
However, there still appears to be a long road ahead until that might happen. Arden noted that while he got to lobby the idea to Westchester's representatives in Albany, they would still have to take it to the state.
“You have to remember, these guys have to then sell this idea to the rest of the state for them to vote to approve it, so it’s not that simple - even though it sounds like a no-brainer.” Arden said.
Arden used a personal anecdote in an attempt to gain momentum among Westchester County legislators.
“I tried to put together a talk-track that would be compelling to them,” he said. “I presented to them, that, over the holidays, I travel down South to see relatives, and every place I stop charges a hotel tax.”
Arden said that all 50 states are basically in competition with each other, and that a hotel tax is a way to be more competitive without raising the taxes of residents.
“What that means is those states are generating revenue and reducing their property tax for their citizens. So we then have a competitive disadvantage by not charging this tax," he said. "Hopefully that resonated with them.”
Councilman Michael Schiliro agreed that the tax would be a welcome addition to North Castle legislation.
“I agree, it’s a good idea,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt residents and, if additional hotels do come into town, it would already by built in.”
Other New York towns petitioning to charge a hotel tax this year are Greenburgh and Sleepy Hollow.
“We’re going to keep at it and see if we can rally enough support where this would go through,” said Arden. “We’ll see what happens.”