Rockland businesses slam proposed hotel tax

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Rockland County businesses are speaking out against a proposed 6 percent occupancy tax that will raise rates in all area hotels if approved by the county government.

Local officials say the proposed tax will generate $2.5 million in revenue and keep property taxes down.

?To continue to increase property taxes is eventually going to force people to go out of their homes, and that's just not what we need in this economy,? says Rockland Chief of Staff Sean Mathews.

However, the proposal is meeting opposition from members of the Rockland Business Association, who say the fact that Rockland County is the only one in the area that does not have a room tax makes it attractive to travelers.

?We believe that if we are the only county that doesn't have an occupancy tax, we become the premiere destination for people looking to do business or to travel to the Hudson Valley,? says Al Samuels, of the Rockland Business Association.

Should the new tax be imposed, travelers could be paying $6 more for every $100 spent on every hotel room in the county.

Hotel chains say the imposition of the tax could result in layoffs of hourly workers because corporations that rent blocks of rooms will look for alternative destinations should the rates go up.

A public hearing on the hotel tax is expected to take place March 3.

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