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Politics and Government

Mahoney says Destiny hotel may benefit from new duty-free rules

Ellen Abbott
Mahoney at her State of the County Address Tuesday

The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) is getting to work on the latest request from the developer of Destiny USA for a tax break to build a 252-room hotel across the street from the mall.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says OCIDA needs to consider Canadian tourism before granting tax breaks to Destiny. Many of the out-of-town visitors to Destiny are Canadian and, with new duty-free Canadian rules, Mahoney says more visitors are coming to town for more than a day.

"If you stay in the United States for fewer than 24 hours, you have to pay taxes on everything you bring back. If you stay between 24 and 48 hours, you can bring up to $200 back to Canada duty-free and $800 if you stay 48 hours, she said.

Mahoney believes a new hotel will give Canadian shoppers an incentive to stay in Syracuse.

"[A hotel] is something that the folks in Canada would like.?And it gives us an opportunity to maximize the investment we already have in Destiny USA.

Mahoney believes more visitors for a longer time means more sales tax dollars, which account for about two-thirds of the revenue in the Onondaga County budget.

"As county executive, I can tell you that the sales tax that is generate is doing a lot of good for all of us here," she said.

In her State of the County Address Tuesday, Mahoney, would not say whether she supports more tax breaks for Destiny, but she did say wants the decision to be based on facts.

'No' might be an answer, and 'no' might even be a right answer. But I want to give good facts and I want everybody to know that the opportunity to bring more visitors to town is something worth considering, Mahoney said.?

She believes emotion has often defined tax breaks for the mega-mall since developers got a 30-year property tax break in exchange for building an addition to the original Carousel Mall over ten years ago.