MAYVILLE – Uncertainty about how the Chautauqua County Legislature can allocate revenue from the bed tax prompted lawmakers to cancel their Wednesday evening meeting.
Assemblyman Andrew Goodell sent a letter to County Attorney Stephen Abdella this week outlining the issue, and copies went to all legislators.
The letter led the Legislature to cancel its meeting, where it was to consider rescinding a motion of support for the new regulations. The legislators passed a motion at the last meeting, but due to outstanding questions, they scheduled the matter for a special session if needed.
At stake is about $500,000 in funding through a 2 percent return on taxes paid for local hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast locations in the county. The rewording of the legislation reportedly landed on county desks just hours before the regular session of the Legislature held last week.
Goodell clarified that the wording in the new legislation allows for spending the bed-tax money on Lake Erie.
Some lawmakers questioned whether Erie could be included since it is not wholly within Chautauqua County. He also confirmed that any watershed areas that drain into any lake in the county, or any tributary of a lake, could be included in the funding.
A question also arose about whether funds could be used for public beaches and shorelines or for private land. Goodell’s response was that “the legislation authorizes but does not require funding for shoreline cleanup.”
He said county leaders could decline to approve funds for cleanup on private or public land.
Applications for the funding are sent to the county, where they are reviewed for compliance with the regulations of the bed-tax legislation.
There are additional bed-tax funds that are earmarked for tourism.