Every time someone stays at a hotel in Onondaga County, there is a 5 percent room occupancy tax. That money is invested in the convention center district, but a trio of hotel owners is behind in its bills. The issue dates back to 2016.
"We're done talking, so we did everything we could to work this out,” said Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon. “We would rather just get paid our money and see these companies succeed, hire people and grow the economy."
Orientalis owes property and room occupancy tax. Its bill for the Days Inn at Carrier Circle is $711,000. The Tramz Group of Hotels owns three hotels and owes $295,000. The Patel Group is about a $100,000 behind.
“Most of these folks are out-of-town actors that aren’t really invested in the community,” said McMahon. “We’re just a piece of a portfolio. The folks that are invested in the community, hopefully, they quickly pay.”
The Onondaga County district attorney is reviewing the materials to see if there is a criminal case to claim the money.
McMahon compares the issue to misspending an escrow check.
"One can suggest this room tax that they collect is being used for other things than to help operate their facilities,” said McMahon.
Spectrum News has reached out to the hotel owners. The Days Inn manager says its issues will be resolved in a few days, and all three ownership groups did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
Several months ago, McMahon created the Onondaga County Accountability and Reinvestment Corporation. The goal is to seize tax delinquent properties and redevelop them.