Timing is everything on bed tax increase
To the editor:
Petra Weber here, hoping this finds you all well. I am writing because on Monday the Essex County Board of Supervisors passed the additional 2% bed tax on all lodging, intended to go into effect June 1, if the article is correct. I was personally against the increase altogether and thought short-term rental laws should be passed and enforced before adding to the bed tax, regardless of its intended use. It is my opinion that once a successful season of regulations was under our belt, we could assess the issue with some real clarity.
So the problem at hand is what that does to the lodging industry. Summer bookings and rates are very much in place, for now. We all have events and groups and regulars booked and confirmed with deposits. Final amounts due are based on 11% total for state and bed tax. You want us to renegotiate the contracts? June 1 seems a reckless start date. In order to allow for the changes we will all need to make to websites, print, information to customers and a great deal more, a Jan. 1, 2021, start date would be the most manageable and palatable. Hotels are already providing rates and taking bookings into 2021, and larger properties are likely booking well beyond that. A great many moving parts, a bit more complicated than a rubber stamp.
Increased tax will still come with challenges. I would ask you contact the supervisors in an effort to move the start date to next year. This gives us the time to make the needed changes and ability to honor the rates given our loyal customers. This increase, enacted rashly, will make us all look bad. I can tell you from being on the front line of hospitality, it will not go smoothly. I know funds are and will be tight. This was not the answer. Not now, not June 1. Not in an area whose entire existence is dependent on tourism.
Thank you and be well.
Wildwood on the Lake