Katz: Our Own Rick Hulse Derailed Tourism Assistance

Katz: Our Own Rick Hulse

Derailed Tourism Assistance

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 11-12, 2014

To the Editor:

In the county budget vote of Wednesday, Dec. 3, a bipartisan group of Ed Lentz, Beth Rosenthal, Gary Koutnik, Linda Rowinski, Kay Stuligross, Craig Gelbsman and Janet Quackenbush voted to return $150,000 in bed tax revenues to the municipalities that generate it.

They recognized, unlike our own Town of Otsego/Village of Cooperstown representative Rick Hulse, that the town and city of Oneonta, Town of Hartwick and Village of Cooperstown bear a disproportionate burden of tourism costs. At the same time, those townships and municipalities account for 78.2 percent of the $1.4 million of the bed-tax revenue paid to Otsego County. Representative Hulse is the first county representative since I’ve worked to procure bed-tax money for Cooperstown who has publicly rejected us. Nancy Iversen, James Johnson, John Kosmer, Sam Dubben and Beth Rosenthal, Republicans and Democrats, have all stood with us and supported our needs.

As mayor of Cooperstown, I applaud those representatives who voted for redistribution of a portion of the bed tax. The village does not, and cannot, run simply as a small village of less than 2,000 residents.

As host to hundreds of thousands of visitors who flock to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame, Fenimore Art Museum, Farmers’ Museum and the Glimmerglass Festival (as well as Cooperstown Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary and Cooperstown All-Star Village in Oneonta), the village has to provide a level of infrastructure and services that go far beyond our own residents’ needs.

While the county happily collects sales and bed tax money that we provide, it returns nothing to us in roads, public safety and other services that we handle on our own through a full-time police force, streets department, water and sewer plants and so on. Cooperstown would welcome financial support of any kind and, had Representative Hulse voted yes, we would have gotten funds. His vote was the deciding one.

In the last few years, much talk has revolved around economic development for Otsego County and bolstering the infrastructure of those activities that draw people to the county. Tourism was clearly identified as one of our strengths and potential growth areas.

Ideally, the county would pursue an increase in the bed tax, in line with counties like Monroe, Albany and Onondaga, and redistribute that additional money directly back to the municipalities that generate it for their infrastructure needs.

Until that is accomplished, short-term help through a return of some bed tax to the municipalities that create it is the right thing to do.

I hope Rick Hulse succeeds in his publicly stated goal to create a process-driven, sustainable, long-term bed-tax-distribution plan. However, he could have easily voted for a short-term return of bed tax money to his district, while still pursuing a long-term plan. The two are not mutually exclusive. He said he supported bed tax for Cooperstown, but voted against it.

One doesn’t deserve credit for saying yes when voting no.

JEFF KATZ
Mayor
Village of Cooperstown