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County ups Proctor's bed tax take

The Schenectady County Legislature voted to amend the bed tax law at a special meeting Tuesday, Sept 25.

Anyone who stays at a hotel or motel within Schenectady County is charged a 4 percent tax. A percentage of the revenue is given to Proctor's Theater. At Tuesday's meeting the legislature voted to cap the amount of money Proctor's receives from the bed tax to $200,000 for the next 15 years.

Last year Proctor's received $175,000 from the bed tax and is expected to receive close to $200,000 this year. Over the course of the agreement Proctor's is expected to receive close to $3 million.

The county's bed tax law was first enacted in the 1985 as a way to save the deteriorating Proctor's Theater.

The bed tax money sometimes meant the difference between success and failure, Proctor's chief operations manager Dan Sheehan said.

The Schenectady County Legislature has given Proctor's $1.5 million toward its $30 million renovation project including $450,000 at the last regular meeting.

At the meeting, two county residents said they weren't happy about the Legislature's actions in spending public money to fund a private business.

Kevin March of Rotterdam said the revenues generated through the bed tax could go toward property tax relief in a community with some of the highest taxes in the country.

Ron Renaud, a Rotterdam business owner, said while governments are looking to be charitable, doing so with other people's money isn't charity; it's theft.

"If private businesses don't do so well, then the public has spoken," he said. "It is not the responsibility of the county to be charitable with other people's money."

Legislator Joseph Suhrada, R-Rotterdam, also voted against the law's amendment. He said he was doing so to give a voice to the county's taxpayers.

"No on can dispute Proctor's as the rightful gem of Schenectady, and this county saved Proctor's," he said. "I am going to be the one dissenting vote to remind this Legislature that no matter what there are taxpayers in every decision we make."

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