North Castle Hotel Occupancy Tax Bill Signed into Law
January 7, 2016 Three bills sponsored by Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester) that will allow local governments to enact a hotel occupancy tax in the towns of North Castle, Harrison, and Mount Kisco were signed into law by Governor Cuomo late on December 31, 2016. With the passing of A.9691, A.9692 and A.10033, local residents can hope to utilize the hotel occupancy tax to reduce property taxes and fund road repairs in the three towns.
"I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for signing these bills into law, especially since he vetoed them last year," said Assemblyman Buchwald. "The state legislature and our local governments came together and united to reduce reliance on property taxes to the relief of local residents. This is a victory for the people of Harrison, Mount Kisco and North Castle."
"I am pleased that these bills have been signed into law by Governor Cuomo. These bills will ensure the continuation of vital local services and programs while alleviating the burden on our property taxes. "said State Senator George Latimer (D-Westchester), Senate sponsor of the Harrison and North Castle bills.
“The Town of North Castle is very pleased that the municipal occupancy bill has finally been passed into law by the Governor,” said Supervisor Michael Schiliro, Supervisor of North Castle. “The new law provides Tax Cap relief to our taxpayers as the new revenue will help improve our Town's infrastructure, specifically our roads. Kudos to Assemblyman David Buchwald and Senator George Latimer for their tireless efforts in providing tax relief to their North Castle constituents.”
“The recent passage of the occupancy tax bill is wonderful news for the Town/Village of Harrison,” said Mayor Ron Belmont, Mayor of Harrison. “The added proceeds will not only allow Harrison to make local, tourism related infrastructure investments, it will also offset increased traffic and public safety needs. I would like to thank Assemblyman David Buchwald and Senator George Latimer for their strong leadership and continued efforts in helping to pass this very important legislation.”
“Through the efforts of our representatives in the Assembly and Senate, Governor Cuomo has signed the Hotel Occupancy Tax Bill,” said Mayor Michele Cindrich, Mayor of Mt Kisco. “The legislation gives several Westchester County municipalities another tool to control real property taxes by imposing modest user fees on hotels, motels and other transient type housing. I thank Assemblyman David Buchwald, whose extensive local government experience is reflected in this bill.”
Last year, Governor Cuomo vetoed similar hotel occupancy tax bills for North Castle and Harrison. Many people felt that last year’s vetoes were unfair since neighboring municipalities, such as Rye Brook and the City of White Plains, have been allowed to impose hotel occupancy taxes. Assemblyman Buchwald and Senator Latimer, persisted, in all cases with the unanimous support of local elected officials, and ultimately their work on behalf of local property taxpayers won out.
North Castle Hotel Tax Bill Likely to Be Signed by Governor Cuomo
June 28, 2016 The hotel occupancy tax bill for North Castle, which was introduced by Assemblyman David Buchwald, was passed by the New York State Assembly on June 14. Introduced by Senator George Latimer, the New York State Senate also passed the bill on June 17. Although both the Assembly and the Senate Houses passed the bill, “the Senate was less willing to do so, but the Assembly used its leverage,” said Latimer.
Other municipalities under consideration for the hotel tax occupancy that passed this session by the Assembly and Senate were the villages of Harrison, Port Chester, Tuckahoe, and Mamaroneck. The bills will go to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his approval, perhaps sometime after July 4, said Latimer.
In March, when the New York State budget was finalized, there was a push to include the hotel tax in the state budget, but Governor Andrew Cuomo did not agree to that, added Latimer. However, Cuomo did make a commitment, as did the leaders of both houses, that the bill would pass as a stand-alone legislation at the end of the session.
The resolution considered by North Castle was for a 3 percent hotel occupancy tax per day for each room rented in a “hotel, motel or similar place of public accommodation.” North Castle’s Town Board had proposed to commit the hotel tax funds to repave and repair the 93 miles of the Town’s roads, infrastructure and bridges.
As the Assembly was the house of origin that passed the hotel occupancy tax, the leadership of the Assembly will negotiate which batch of bills--and when--they will be sent to the Governor. Up to 100 bills are parceled out at a time and sent on a weekly basis.
The Governor then legally has to sign or veto the bill within 30 days of delivery. Latimer and Buchwald have sponsored the hotel tax legislation for North Castle unsuccessfully for the past four years. Cuomo vetoed the bill last year when he said, ”If there is to be a policy change on this issue, it should be done pursuant to a comprehensive and determinative state-wide policy as advanced by the Legislature. If the Legislature set such a policy, I will commit to reconsidering this issue.”
Buchwald said he is “cautiously optimistic that the Governor will sign the bill into law. It’s a matter of basic fairness when neighboring communities like the City of White Plains and Village of Rye Brook have the ability to impose local hotel occupancy taxes.”
Latimer concluded, “I’m confident this bill will be signed by the Governor based on this year’s past discussions.”
North Castle Considers Hotel Occupancy Tax Again
April 1, 2016 North Castle’s Town Board has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday April 5 at 6:00 p.m. to consider the authorization to establish a hotel occupancy tax for North Castle. The meeting will be held at Town Hall on 15 Bedford Road, Armonk.
Under consideration is the Town Board’s New York State Home Rule Resolution which provides approval to submit the Home Rule Request to the New York State Senate and to the New York State Assembly. If approved, the legislation will be introduced to the Senate by Senator George Latimer, while Assemblyman David Buchwald will introduce the legislation to the Assembly.
With the Town Board’s authorization in the past, Senator Latimer and Assemblyman Buchwald have sponsored the hotel tax legislation in their respective houses for the last four years.
On December 28, 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the Assembly and executed a veto to deny the legislation of a hotel/motel occupancy tax for the Town of North Castle, the Village of Tuckahoe, the Village of Harrison, the Towns of Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant, the Village of Mamaroneck, the Village of Port Chester, and the Town of Woodbury.
Cuomo said, “These bills would allow, in addition to existing county taxes that are levied, specific local towns and villages to impose a daily room tax on any person staying at a hotel, motel or any facility providing overnight lodging. The Legislature has historically advanced the occupancy tax bills only for counties and cities, except in one unique circumstance in the past.”
Throughout Westchester County there are several municipalities, including the Village of Rye Brook and the City of White Plains, which are permitted to implement hotel occupancy taxes to bring in additional revenue.
In the past, Latimer has offered North Castle no guarantee of the hotel tax bill passing, but he was successful as a former Assemblyman when he filed a hotel occupancy tax bill for Rye City in 2006, New Rochelle in 2009 and the Village of Rye Brook in 2010.
In December, Cuomo concluded, ”If there is to be a policy change on this issue, it should be done pursuant to a comprehensive and determinative state-wide policy as advanced by the Legislature. If the Legislature set such a policy, I will commit to reconsidering this issue.”
The neighboring state of Connecticut has a statewide 15% hotel occupancy tax.
The resolution considered by North Castle, once again, says that the Town desires to enact a 3% hotel occupancy tax per day for each room rented in a “hotel, motel or similar place of public accommodation.”
The Town Board is proposing to commit the hotel tax funds to repave and repair roads, infrastructure, and bridges. In addition, their intention is to utilize the potential revenue to stimulate the local economy to create construction jobs without further burdening the taxpayers.
Last year Town Supervisor Michael Schiliro said that the proposed occupancy tax could collect approximately $125,000 in new revenue to go toward the improvement of the Town’s 93 miles of roads.
After Cuomo’s veto of the bill Senator Latimer said, ”North Castle has simply asked for the same authority that five other Westchester communities have already received. I'm deeply disappointed that the Governor did not side with our local governments in vetoing this bill.”
Assemblyman Buchwald added, “It is disappointing that Governor Cuomo has effectively denied the Town of North Castle the opportunity to revitalize its roads and bridges. This new stream of revenue, which many municipalities in Westchester already enjoy, would have helped the Town finance needed repairs to its infrastructure and reduce the burden on local taxpayers. I will continue to fight for North Castle's residents alongside Senator Latimer.”
If the Town Board approves the authorization of the resolution for the hotel tax, which is most likely, then Latimer and Buchwald will once again introduce the bills to their respective houses. The exact language of the bills is to be worked out by the Town Board, town attorney, and the State Senate and Assembly offices.
Buchwald/Latimer Bill to Fund Road Repairs in North Castle Vetoed by Governor Cuomo Updated December 29, 2015
Governor Andrew Cuomo has vetoed legislation sponsored by State Senator George Latimer (D-Rye) and State Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-White Plains) designed to fund road repairs in the Town of North Castle. Assembly bill A.217 would have allowed North Castle to levy a 3% hotel occupancy tax. The Town Board had committed the funds to repaving and other repairs of local roads and bridges, without further burdening local property taxpayers.
A hotel occupancy tax involves charging a patron of a hotel (or motel) an additional percentage based on the daily rate of the selected room. New York State already allows various municipalities throughout Westchester County to implement hotel occupancy taxes to bring in additional revenue, including North Castle's neighbors, the village of Rye Brook and the city of White Plains. The state of Connecticut has a 15% hotel occupancy tax.
Earlier this year, the majority Republican North Castle Town Board unanimously passed a home-rule resolution on a bipartisan basis asking the state to allow the town to impose the occupancy tax. According to North Castle Town Supervisor Michael Schiliro, the proposed occupancy tax could bring approximately $125,000 in new revenue to the town. The bill was endorsed by the Armonk Chamber of Commerce, the Westchester Municipal Officials Association and the New York State Association of Towns.
"North Castle has simply asked for the same authority that five other Westchester communities have already received,” said Senator Latimer. “The local officials - all the local elected Republicans and Democrats as well - are unanimous in support. We have the support from our local Chamber of Commerce. So I'm deeply disappointed that the Governor did not side with our local governments in vetoing this bill.
“It is disappointing that Governor Cuomo has effectively denied the Town of North Castle the opportunity to revitalize its roads and bridges,” said Assemblyman Buchwald. “This new stream of revenue, which many municipalities in Westchester already enjoy, would have helped the town finance needed repairs to its infrastructure and reduce the burden on local taxpayers. I will continue to fight for North Castle's residents alongside Senator Latimer.”
On December 28, 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the Assembly and executed Veto # 307 to authorize the imposition of a hotel/motel occupancy tax in the following municipalities: the village of Tuckahoe, the town of North Castle, the village of Harrison, the towns of Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant, the village of Mamaroneck, the village of Port Chester and the town of Woodbury.
Cuomo returned the Assembly’s bills without his approval. He said, “these bills would allow, in addition to existing county taxes that are levied, specific local towns and villages to impose daily room tax on any person staying at a hotel, motel or any facility providing overnight lodging.”
North Castle Town Supervisor Michael Schiliro said, “The benefits of the Hotel Occupancy Tax would have helped to meet the most urgent needs of our Town, the repair and improvement our 93 miles of roads, investment in local infrastructure, and to stimulate our local economy through much needed construction work.”
Senator Latimer and Assemblyman Buchwald have sponsored this legislation in their respective houses for the last three years, each year with the support of the North Castle Town Board.
“The Legislature has historically advanced the occupancy tax bills only for counties and cities, except in one unique circumstance in the past," said Cuomo. "If there is to be a policy change on this issue, it should be done pursuant to a comprehensive and determinative state-wide policy as advanced by the Legislature. If the Legislature set such a policy, I will commit to reconsidering this issue.”
State Legislative Support for North Castle Hotel Tax
December 3, 2012 Newly elected State Senator George Latimer and State Assemblyman David Buchwald are acting in tandem as they reach out to local municipalities asking what they can do for them.
Latimer says he has always been willing to draft and file a bill for local governments when requested, and plans to submit a hotel occupancy tax bill for North Castle that was requested by Supervisor Howard Arden. "This can be helpful to offset and moderate the property taxes, especially given the 2% tax cap. North Castle deserves to have the revenue stream," says Latimer. He offers no guarantees, but Latimer was successful as Assemblyman when he filed a hotel occupancy tax bill for Rye City in 2006, New Rochelle in 2009 and the Village of Rye Rook in 2010.
Latimer will meet with the North Castle Town Board in the spring of 2013, after the state budget work has been completed. The bill will be filed with the State Finance Committee and Latimer will support the bill and explain why a hotel tax makes sense. He can't promise any results, and says one school of thought is that no new taxes are beneficial now. But the bill will be alive for two years while he is in office.
David Buchwald, Assemblyman-Elect for New York's 93rd Assembly District, said, "I am a big believer that one of my prime roles as a State Assemblyman is to be an ambassador for our local communities. I am committed to working with local officials, both Democrats and Republicans, to see that our towns have a voice through home rule legislation. If a town government decides that it needs State legislation, my standard approach is to introduce the bill. Town officials, the local town attorney and the State Senate and Assembly offices will need to confer to work out the language of the exact bill."
"Having that source of revenue would help take the burden off local property taxpayers. So I understand why Supervisor Arden feels that it is only fair that North Castle be given the same opportunity as other communities," added Buchwald.
Latimer looks forward to working with Assemblyman David Buchwald to move the bill through both houses.
A Request for Hotel Tax to Go toward North Castle Infrastructure
November 30, 2012 Newly elected State Senator George Latimer and State Assemblyman David Buckwald wrote a letter to Supervisor Howard Arden seeking recommendations on issues involving North Castle that he wants them to address this year. Arden responded with a few thoughts: one was a request for them to sponsor a North Castle hotel-occupancy tax recommendation for legislation in Albany; a hotel tax cannot be passed on the local level.
"Hotel room taxes are already being levied in many Westchester municipalities and across the country," says Arden. Approximately ten Westchester municipalities have requested to join the cities and towns of Rye Brook, White Plains, New Rochelle and Sleepy Hollow, which already charge hotel taxes, according to an article that appeared on lohud.com in June, 2012; these municipalities include North Castle, Mamaroneck, Port Chester, Tarrytown, Irvington, Ardsley, Elmsford, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings on Hudson and Sleepy Hollow. The consortium of the 10 municipalities wanted the state legislature to grant permission for a three-percent tax on hotel stays.
Two years ago, Mayor Joan Feinstein of the Village of Rye Brook said she was "delighted that our legislators, Senator Suzi Oppenheimer and Assemblyman George Latimer, successfully advocated for passage of this legislation, and recognized the need of municipalities, such as Rye Brook, to have alternate sources of non-property revenue to maintain essential services and programs.” Feinstein’s statement appeared in New York State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer's website. Feinstein added, "I applaud their efforts and understand the importance of Rye Brook being the first village in New York State to be given the authority to levy such a tax."
In 2009, the cities of New Rochelle, White Plains and Rye were authorized to impose a hotel occupancy tax. It was passed by the senate and signed into law by Governor Paterson. At that time, Bob Romano, a candidate for the North Castle Town Board, said, "I believe North Castle needs to request the authority to impose this tax. In keeping with my goal to ease our property-tax burden, new and alternative revenue sources that have minimal or no negative impact on our homeowners should be addressed promptly, and would be a win-win for our residents."
Westchester County hotels already charge a hotel room occupancy tax that is three percent for each occupied hotel room. The total revenue from the hotel county tax is allocated as follows: 85 percent goes to the needs of the homeless and 15 percent for the purposes of tourism. In addition to the hotel tax, Westchester County hotel visitors must also pay a sales tax.
The hurdle that Westchester County had to jump through in 1987 occurred when they sent a request to legislation in Albany without details on where the extra taxes would be spent. Arden says of North Castle, "The hotel room taxes are not considered onerous by payers and we intend to earmark this revenue for infrastructure improvements to roads, bridges...."
North Castle currently has one hotel under consideration, with a few possibilities to be added down the road. La Quinta Inn & Suites is located on Business Park Drive in Armonk. The hotel, which features 140 rooms on two floors, has rates that range from $69 to $110 per night. Arden said, "It is estimated that a simple $3.00 per night room tax (for La Quinta) could currently generate as much $125,000 per year." A flat $3 per room, per night, would be more than the 3% tax that was requested by the 10 municipalities, including North Castle, in legislation this past summer.”
There have been two public discussions on building more hotels in Armonk. In 2009, IBM mentioned a plan for a 300-room hotel on its world headquarters campus in Armonk, but the subject has not been discussed publicly since that time. During a recent North Castle Town Board work session, developer Michael Fareri said he was involved in discussions with the Marriott Hotel to occupy his empty office building in Business Park Drive, directly across from La Quinta; he also said he was involved in discussions with Trader Joes.
In the past, the objection to the hotel tax from Westchester hotel owners has been that competition is tough; the hotel industry’s business has been off since the 2008 recession, and any increase passed on to their clients may, in turn, hurt their business.