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As Warren County closes on a deal to charge its 4 percent bed tax on short-term home rentals, county supervisors are trying to figure out how many of the rentals there are around the county.

County Treasurer Michael Swan asked for the Board of Supervisors' blessing to look for a consulting firm that would identify the short-term rentals in the county, as part of the process to begin charging the tax on home rentals at some point next year. The cost of hiring a firm was unclear, but he said it could be paid with occupancy tax money.

Warren County is negotiating a deal with Airbnb, the biggest of the short-term rental companies, to have the company require that renters charge bed tax on rentals, as local homes are increasingly being used for the purpose. Currently, occupancy tax is charged on hotel, motel and bed-and-breakfast rooms in Warren County.

Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said his town has retained a firm to find the homes in Lake George, as part of the town's process to require owners to register who rent properties through sites like Airbnb and VRBO. 

Dickinson, who chairs the county Board of Supervisors Occupancy Tax Coordination Committee, said he "strongly recommended" the county follow Swan's request. He said the process the town is undergoing involves significant research early on, with updates annually as more homes are added.

Swan said the county should put out a "request for proposal" to seek firms interested in the work.

"We have some time here. It's not an immediate thing," he said.

Bed tax is used to fund tourism promotion in the county, such as promoting events, funding environmental projects like boat inspection and washing programs and assisting the coalition that operates Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls. Over $4 million has been brought in annually in recent years.

Essex County collects bed tax on short-term rentals, and Clinton County officials recently worked out an agreement to require that renters of short-term properties charge bed tax as well.

Washington County Attorney Roger Wickes said Washington County officials are also looking into changing the law to have occupancy tax charged on rentals there.

"We're still trying to get a handle on how many short-term rentals we have in Washington County," he said.

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reporter

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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