HUDSON — City lawmakers are considering whether to opt into the county’s proposed short-term rental tax.
A subcommittee of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors is pondering a countywide tax on short-term rentals, and is giving Hudson the option of taking part or remaining out.
The recent increase of short-term rentals has prompted some municipalities to take steps to preserve housing in a strained market and cash in on the tourism economy.
Third Ward Supervisor Michael Chameides presented the highlights of the county’s draft short-term rental proposal last Thursday at the Legal Committee of the Hudson Common Council.
The proposal includes a 4 percent tax on short-term rentals. Chameides suggested the city make a recommendation of how the county should move forward and whether it wants to be included in the tax.
If the short-term rental tax includes Hudson, it would mean annual tax revenues of $636,000, Chameides said. Without Hudson, revenues would drop by nearly half to $379,000, he said.
“That revenue could either be used to improve countywide services or it could be used to offset property taxes,” Chameides said.
The money could also be used for affordable housing, he said.
“Affordable housing continues to be a major issue here in Hudson,” Chameides said. “We’ve seen studies. We have an action plan, we know it’s an issue. If we had some funding for those projects we could move forward more effectively and faster. One of the options is to earmark funds from a countywide short-term rental tax for affordable housing and that would help alleviate those issues.”
Nearly 300 active vacation rentals are listed in the 12534 area code, which includes the town of Greenport and parts of Stockport, Livingston and Claverack, according to AirDNA, which collects market data on Airbnb.
If approved, the tax would be in addition to the city’s lodging tax.
The city’s lodging tax, which was passed in 2017, requires operators of short-term rentals for less than 30 days — including those renting through the websites Airbnb and VRBO — to register with the city clerk, who would collect a 4 percent tax from visitors. Part of that revenue would be used to promote tourism in Hudson.
Conversations are percolating about whether promoting tourism is the best use of the tax revenue. While it was intended to help increase use of short-term rentals and tourism traffic in Hudson, others have argued whether the money should be used to help those not benefiting from the tourism-dominated economy. Fourth Ward Alderman John Rosenthal, chairman of the Legal Committee, said Thursday that tourism marketing might not have been the best use for the revenue.
“It’s worth revisiting and discussing,” he said.
Some city residents, like Jackie Thomas, asked the Legal Committee to consider the amount of revenue short-term rentals bring into Hudson’s economy and to homeowners who need extra income to continue to live in Hudson.
The city annually receives $275,000 from its lodging tax, Fourth Ward Alderman Rich Volo said. That, combined with the money spent at retail shops and restaurants, the rental business is a $20 million industry for the city, Volo said.
Rosenthal assured the crowd that their concerns would carry equal weight as those who were concerned about the city becoming an all-short-term rental economy.
“This is part of a larger conversation that we are having, not just about short-term rental regulations,” Rosenthal said.
Discussions on the county plan are continuing. No decision has been made about whether the city would opt into the county’s plan.
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