KINGSTON, N.Y – It will soon become a little more expensive to spend the night in one of the many hotels, motels and other short-term rental accommodations in Ulster County.
Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger earlier this month signed into law legislation doubling the county’s occupancy tax rate to 4% from the current 2%.
The tax is expected to go into effect in February and will be levied against all short-term rentals in the county.
County officials expect the increase to generate an additional $3 million in 2024, which they said will be used to help fund the county’s housing and transportation initiatives.
“Raising the tax from two percent to four percent will generate crucial revenue that I have committed to investments in housing and public transit,” Metzger said in a statement emailed to the Freeman. “By dedicating a portion of this year’s budget to the Housing Action Fund to address our urgent housing crisis, and allocating another portion to our UCAT bus system, we ensure that Ulster’s visitors contribute directly to the well-being of our residents and the growth of local businesses.”
Metzger has said 1% of the increased revenue will go toward the Housing Action Fund and 1% of the increase will go toward UCAT. The remaining revenue will continue being used to support the county’s general fund.
In 2023, the county collected $3,055,832 through its occupancy tax. The 2024 budget anticipates $6.3 million to be generated as a result of the increased tax rate.
The county Legislature had debated the idea of increasing the occupancy tax on and off for more than three years before approving the increase in a 13-8 vote in December.
It marks the first time the county has increased the occupancy tax rate since it was instituted in 1991.
Members of the hospitality industry have panned the increase, saying it would hurt an industry still reeling from the impacts of the COVID shutdown and subsequent restrictions by deterring potential visitors from staying in Ulster County.
Proponents of the measure have rejected that idea, saying that even with the increase to 4%, Ulster County will continue to have one of the lowest occupancy tax rates in the region.
Dutchess County, which currently levies a 4% occupancy tax, is seeking state permission to increase its tax rate to 5% beginning in July. Orange and Sullivan counties currently levy a 5% occupancy tax.
Metzger said anyone with questions about the new occupancy tax can contact the Department of Finance. The department’s phone number is (845) 340-3460.