MALONE — Franklin County will form an advisory committee to look at an occupancy tax, much like the group it created to study an all-terrain-vehicle trail.
Called a Destination Marketing Committee, the 20 or so people to be appointed should be those "whose life is based upon the visitors," said Ernest Hohmeyer of Mountain Community Vision.
He is a consultant and former director of the Adirondack Economic Development Corp., invited by Finance Committee Chair Timothy Burpoe (D-Saranac Lake) to make a presentation to legislators Thursday.
The county has briefly discussed approaching the State Legislature for permission to begin collecting a bed tax on overnight visitors, with preliminary revenue figures obtained from local chambers of commerce ranging from $350,000 to $400,000.
County Treasurer Bryon Varin has said the figure, after administration costs are factored in, would be more like $100,000.
Clinton and Essex counties each charge a 3-percent occupancy tax.
Hohmeyer's presentation, given at no charge, moved Franklin County's plan to the study phase and ended with legislators committing to getting the legwork finished.
They will look to appoint someone to oversee the committee and keep it on task, just like they did when former County Tourism Director Neil Seymour was assigned chairmanship of the ATV Trail System Committee.
Legislators also agreed to make a decision by fall on whether to move forward in order to make a request in January when the new session of the State Legislature convenes.
The county has been concerned that the state may not grant permission to create a new tax, given New York's economic picture. But legislators are determined to study the feasibility of an occupancy tax.
And they vowed Thursday that if the new tax is allowed, the money would be set aside in a fund dedicated to tourism and marketing, not the county's general fund.
Hohmeyer said development of an overall plan should focus on spending the bed-tax fund on businesses and amenities that could generate the most profit and include a way to measure successes and what efforts need to be fixed or abandoned.
The committee would look at existing regional businesses and develop destinations because "you can't market what you don't have," he said.
If the county decides an occupancy tax is a good idea to pursue, it can partner with other established promotional and tourism-related agencies to build on their existing marketing and promotional network.
All of it is designed to boost the local economy and possibly generate more permanent, private investment from those who visit.
Email Denise A. Raymo at: email@example.com