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COUNTY LEGISLATURE

Cayuga County considers Airbnb tax

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Ways and Means

The Cayuga County Legislature Ways and Means Committee meets Tuesday night at the county Soil and Water Conservation District building in Sennett.

SENNETT — Cayuga County is considering collecting taxes for Airbnb rentals.

The online marketplace that allows people to rent out and book properties across the globe currently has no enforcement for tax collection, Cayuga County Treasurer Jim Orman told county legislators at the Ways and Means Committee meeting Tuesday night. Considering the county collects room tax on hotels and other similar establishments, Orman said the question has been often brought up about Airbnb.

"We now have gotten a contact at Airbnb itself, and I'll have more details forthcoming, but we're trying to work with them to have them collect and extend us a check," he said. "It sounds too simple — almost too good to be true. We'll find out."

Legislature Chairman Keith Batman said since imposing a tax on Airbnbs would benefit the tourism office more than the county specifically, he didn't want the treasurer's office to look too deeply into it. The contract with Airbnb, he said, is a legal document.

"That will require legal time, legal examination and so on," he said. "My thinking on this is that it's the tourism office that benefits. They should take the lead, incur the legal expense, the legal time of looking into that. So far they've seemed not interested in doing so. It would concern me that we would use our resources to benefit something that almost exclusively benefits them."

Meg Vanek, executive director of the Cayuga County Convention and Visitors Bureau, was not at the meeting held at the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District's building in Sennett Tuesday night to respond. Orman said he did not plan to spend much time, but the office is going to look at what's involved.

In other news: 

• Legislators passed an emergency resolution, filling a director of community health services position in the Cayuga County Health Department. Health Department Director Kathleen Cuddy said she'd had a resignation in that position Tuesday morning. The department needs a full-time registered nurse to be in full compliance with the state and its programs, which was part of the reason why Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Aileen McNabb-Coleman allowed the resolution to be added to the agenda on the same day of its vote.

"It is a unique position," Cuddy said. "It's a very crucial role."

Batman said he would like the body to examine essential positions in the county and consider adding in a line to contracts requiring four or five weeks notice. 

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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