JULY MEETING HELD TODAY
By JIM KEVLIN ׇ• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – After tabling the measure two weeks ago, the county Board of Representatives today rallied behind Destination Marketing of Otsego County, with nine reps rejecting a resolution to reduce funding for its promotional arm from 15 percent to 24 percent.
Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta, proposed the larger cut for DMCOC, saying, “With the present state of the industry” – tourism – “we’re not going to be doing as much in this atmosphere.” Michele Farwell, D-Morris, second the motion.
He proposed to increase the cut from $90,000 to $144,000 – the equivalent of one layoff, he said – then make more money available when the economy starts rebounding. As per its contract with the entity, DMOC still receives $600,000, most of which has already been paid.
Farwell agreed with Stammel, saying “we should frontload the pain.”
But bi-partisan resistance, spearheaded by board Vice Chairman Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, and Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, blunted the initiative.
“Ag, tourism and healthcare, these are our foundation businesses,” said Kennedy, pointing out that the outside agency whose funding was held up two weeks ago – Cooperative Extension, Otsego Now and others – are aimed, like DMOC, at “pillar” sectors.
She pointed out that, already, DMOC has learned it won’t receive an anticipated $67,000 from the state’s I Love NY program.
Marietta added, “What’s being ignored here is the direct tie to sales tax. People are coming here now; people are staying here now. (Hoteliers are) being creative. They’re thinking outside the box. That’s going to generate bed tax.”
But two Republicans, Ed Frazier of Unadilla and Keith McCarty of East Springfield, expressed worries at the amount taxes will have to be raised next year as it is, and the further burden even this relatively modest measure might cause.
In the end, they joined Stammel and Farwell in voting for the larger cut for DMOC and other “outside agencies,” which also included the Soil & Water Conservation District, the county fair (only to be paid if the event is actually held), the Otsego County Chamber, Cooperstown’s kiosk in Pioneer Park and the regional land bank, which buys and either razes or rehabilitates abandoned properties.
Voting to defeat the measure were Kennedy, Marietta, Republicans Peter Oberacker, Schenevus, and Dan Wilber, Burlington, and Democrats Adrienne Martini, Clark Oliver, Danny Lapin and Jill Basile, all of Oneonta.
Due to technical difficulties at the Zoom meeting, Rick Brockway, R-Laurens, was unable to record his vote.
Cassandra Harrington, DMOC executive director, said an online promotion – a general promotion through social media, which is then followed with a specific pitch for accommodations to those who click through – will now begin on Monday, June 8. She expects to be able to show an “uptick” by earlyi July.
“We were thankful to hear we are going to get the same cutback as the rest of the ‘ourside agencies,’ which is fair and good, and a smart investment for the county,” she said.