Press-Republican

April 6, 2013

Tourism advisory committee stalled

DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

MALONE — Golf packages and other spring tourism plans are finished, fall events are being formulated, and preparation for next winter’s activities will begin soon.

But Franklin County has yet to name anyone to the nine-member panel that is supposed to decide how budgeted tourism dollars and future bed-tax money would be spent.

DEADLINE MISSED

Legislators had given themselves until April 4 to come up with a list of nominees for the Tourism Advisory Committee, which was expected to be organized in January so members could follow the progression of the county’s existing tourism programs and promotions.

That way, all committee members would be informed when making decisions about what tourism activities to pursue with 2014 budget funds.

But when asked Thursday about the submission of names, Legislature Chairman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) said, “We haven’t fulfilled that. We’re hoping by next week.”

HEARINGS

The county is considering a local law to add up to a 5 percent fee to overnight guest stays, which could initially bring in $350,000 to $400,000 a year for tourism.

Legislators hope to eventually use bed-tax revenue rather than property taxes to fund all tourism-related activities in the county.

The proposed occupancy tax will be the topic of three public hearings this month.

The first is at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, at the Harrietstown Town Hall, followed by a second meeting at 7 that night at the Tupper Lake Village Offices.

The final meeting is at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in the fourth-floor Legislative Chambers of the County Courthouse in Malone.

PANEL MEMBERS

The draft law requires the advisory committee include two representatives from accommodations, two at-large members from any field and one each from an attraction, recreation, retail/restaurant, camping and a tourist home, such as an inn, cottage, condominium, vacation-rental property or bed and breakfast.

The committee must include at least one person from Tupper Lake and one from Saranac Lake.

Legislators might fill one at-large seat with a person with marketing or promotions experience and the other with someone who has a background in local history.

PLANNING FOR FALL

Fawn Tatro, the county’s part-time tourism official, said this is the time of year when she works on regionalized fall promotions and that winter planning begins afterwards.

Spring and summer promotions are already set, such as the Bird Fest at the Visitors Interpretive Center at Paul Smiths in conjunction with Hamilton County’s annual birding festival, she said.

Tatro is also researching a tourism campaign around motorcycle enthusiasts.

As tourism director, she will be a non-voting member of the advisory committee and carry out activities that are most likely to boost economic development and revenue.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com