County Legislator Dan Birmingham, R-Southeast, who voted against the measure, said he received a text message from Odell, indicating that she was moving forward with the veto.
“She told me today she is going to veto it,” said Birmingham. “She gave me a heads-up on Thursday, I saw her Friday evening, and this morning we had another conversation. Then I got a text this morning.”
Odell declined to comment on her impending action.
Birmingham and Legislator Sam Oliverio, D-Putnam Valley, voted against the proposed tax last week.
Birmingham said Odell was moving in the right direction.
“I’m against new taxes and this would be a brand new tax for Putnam County,” Birmingham said. “We are not a mature business community like White Plains or Stamford, with business travelers staying in hotels. In Putnam, it’s our aunts, uncles, and cousins coming here to family events. Do we want to tax those we hold most closely to us?”
Odell’s impending veto comes as 12 Westchester municipalities have bills pending in Albany seeking approval for municipal hotel occupancy taxes, which would be levied in addition to the county’s 4 percent hotel levy. Rockland County also implemented its 4 percent hotel occupancy in January. The Westchester communities have met resistance from state lawmakers who are in no mood to empower municipalities to enact new taxes this year.
Voting for the Putnam tax were Mary Conklin, R-Patterson; Ritchie Othmer, R-Kent, Sal Albano, R-Carmel; Dini LoBue, R-Mahopac; Vincent Tamagna, R-Philipstown; and Roger Gross, R-Brewster. Anthony DiCarlo, R-Mahopac, was absent.
The vote was 6-2. The Legislature would need six votes to override Odell’s veto.
The veto would be a rebuke to the Legislature’s Chairman Conklin, who sought support for the measure, which she said would provide non-property tax revenue to the county from visitors. It would provide revenues outside of the property-tax cap that went into effect this year.
Hotel occupants in Putnam currently pay sales tax of 8.375 percent on their stays here, which includes the 4 percent county sales tax. The hotel occupancy tax would add 4 percent, making the levy 12.375 percent. That would be slightly higher than neighboring Connecticut, which has a 12 percent hotel occupancy tax.
Conklin suggested that the proceeds of the tax might be shared with the communities that have a hotel or motel within their borders.
“It’s a tax that would be paid mostly by other than Putnam county residents,” said Conklin. I don’t think it would offend anyone if we had it. No matter where you go there’s a hotel tax.”
Conklin says she’s awaiting Odell’s veto message.
“I’m looking forward to her rationale,” said Conklin. “It’s not a harmful thing, and could be beneficial. We don’t have that many hotel rooms, but we are anticipating some. Why not generate some additional funding for our residents?”