February 20, 2009, The Daily Mail: Ski tax proposal draws ire of resorts. Gov. Paterson’s idea called “shortsighted”

Ski tax proposal draws ire of resorts

link to complete article is here:

Gov. Paterson’s idea called “shortsighted”

By Colin DeVries

Paterson’s proposed ski tax that could detrimentally affect the industry in Greene County and beyond.

“It’s very shortsighted by our governor,” said Scott Brandi, president of Ski Areas of New York, Inc.

The proposed tax would add a minimum 4 percent state sales tax to all lift tickets and lessons, as well as an up to 4 percent county sales tax. State-owned and operated resorts would be exempt from the proposed tax.

According to Brandi, the tax could not only have an extremely negative effect on ski areas but also indirectly impact area businesses that cater to the influx of skiers to eat at their restaurants, sleep at their hotels, drink at their bars, etc.

“We commissioned an economic study last year and showed that the ski industry in New York generates $1.1 billion,” said Brandi, “and that is only during the four months of winter.”

Greene County resorts Hunter Mountain and Windham Mountain are not happy about the new taxes and believe it will greatly impact their sustainability in these tough economic times.

“This is an industry with very high capital expenses and also very dependent on the weather and the discretionary income of our guests,” said Kirt Zimmer, marketing director at Windham. “At a time when discretionary income is so tight, an increase in sales tax will only hurt our sales.”

Zimmer thought it was also contradictory to impose a tax on non-diet soft drinks, while taxing healthy alternative during the time of year when it is really needed.

Brandi agrees: “We don’t think it’s fair. … You impose a soda tax then you turn around and tax one of the healthiest things for our kids to do in the winter time for our kids.”

The tax is not only limited to skiing either, it also includes golf courses, campgrounds, beaches, swimming pools, sporting arenas, bowling alleys, shooting galleries and motion picture theaters.

Greene County Legislature Chairman Wayne Speenburgh said it was unfair to exclude state-owned and operated recreational facilities.

“If he is going to do a sales tax and exclude state-owned ski areas and golf courses,” Speenburgh said, “I think that is putting private industry at a disadvantage.”

He added that the Greene County Legislature may be introducing a resolution opposing the tax.

A press conference will be held at Windham Mountain today to address this critical issue that many officials agree could severely damage one of Greene County’s most vital industries.

State Senator James Seward and Assemblyman Pete Lopez will be present to show their support for local ski areas.

Log onto www.stoptheskitax.com for more information on Brandi’s organization and initiative.

To reach reporter Colin DeVries, please call (518) 943-2100, ext. 3325, or e-mail [email protected].

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