Highlights of the December 4, 2001 meeting of the
Tompkins County Board of Representatives

Following a public hearing, the Board approved by a vote of 9-5 (Representatives Lalley, Proto, Todd, Totman, and Winch) a phased increase in the local hotel and motel room occupancy tax. The current rate of 3 percent will be raised to 4 percent on May 1, 2002; to 4.5 percent on January 1, 2003, and to 5 percent on July 1, 2003. Bed & Breakfasts are exempt from the increase, but will continue to collect a 3 percent tax from their overnight lodgers. The room occupancy tax, which was set at 3 percent in 1989, is used to support the promotion and development of the tourism industry in the county, with the largest allocation going to the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Recent room tax revenues are as follows: 1997 – $490,000; 1998 – 505,000; 1999 – $522,050; 2000 – $586,500; 2001 – $617,850. It is estimated that when the tax increase is fully implemented, it will boost revenue by about $400,000 a year. Contact: Stuart Stein, Chair, Economic & Workforce Development Committee, 273-3500.


The County’s Biggs A building may finally be finding its way to the tax rolls. A closing with buyer Transamerican Engineering Corporation, of Maryland, has been scheduled for later this week. Transamerican approached the County with an offer to buy the building in June. The purchase price is $275,000. The 70-year-old Biggs A building, adjacent to Cayuga Medical Center, has been largely vacant since 1997 when the County moved its Social Services, Probation, and Youth Bureau offices downtown. The County will lease space in the building for its Records Management Division. The Facilities Division will also occupy leased space in the building but will be moved to the Public Works building on Bostwick Road when renovations are completed. Contact: Jonathan Wood, County Attorney, 274-5546.


The Board approved the issuance by the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) of up to $65 million in no-interest bonds to Cornell University. The bonds will allow the university to re-finance its debt for the Lake Source Cooling Project, as well as some older university projects. The IDA, which supports local industrial development, is paid an administrative fee in conjunction with issuing the bonds. Michael Stamm, President of Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD), noted earlier today that it makes good sense for the IDA to help Cornell, this community’s largest employer, cut expenses. Contacts: Stuart Stein, Chair, Economic & Workforce Development Committee, 273-3500; Michael Stamm, President, Tompkins County Area Development, 273-0005.

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