Press-Republican

Wednesday

March 20, 2013

Tourism funds contested

MALONE — A committee is recommending Franklin County invest $25,000 and use rural-life experiences to attract city dwellers to the North Country.

The County Legislature is expected to vote on the funding Thursday.

But Republican Legislator Paul Maroun of Tupper Lake says he may hold up this vote and others unless his community is considered for $18,000 in tourism-promotion funds.

TOURISM BUDGET

The adopted 2013 budget allocated $75,000 in tourism-related funds, and legislators awarded the first $25,000 to the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) in December to promote Saranac Lake.

When the budget passed, it designated $25,000 to agri-tourism, but the county manager put that money and another unspent $25,000 back into the county’s general fund when oversight of the County Tourism Office went from the Industrial Development Agency to legislators last month.

EXTENSION GETS FUNDS

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County made a pitch for its promised funding on Feb. 7, and the issue was raised again on March 14, ending with a recommendation for funding from the Economic Development and Planning Committee.

But Maroun said Tupper Lake recently hired an events coordinator and should get some money to draw visitors if Cooperative Extension is going to get funded.

“I feel the people I represent deserve something, too,” he said, adding that the south end of the county doesn’t get as much investment as it should.

“I won’t hold up the $25,000 as long as I get consideration on my request,” Maroun said. “If not, I’ll start holding up a lot of projects around here. I will vote for this, but I want consideration.”

Board Chairman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) said, “I give my personal word Tupper Lake will get full consideration.”

NEW FOCUS

Cooperative Extension wants to use the funding, as it changes the focus of ag-education specialist Bernadette Logozar from economic development to agri-tourism with a plan to promote place-based experiences.

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