They just keep coming, and they just keep spending. Travelers continue to find Yates County an attractive place to visit, according to information shared Sept. 9 by Yates County Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Jessica Bacher.
Reporting to the Yates County Legislature Sept. 9, Bacher said traveler spending in Yates County in 2018 reflects a 5% increase, resulting in $67.5 million, while Finger Lakes regional spending increased 4%.
Bacher’s report, based on a study completed by Tourism Economics, points to a conclusion that without the tourism revenue, the average Yates County household would have to pay an additional $920 in taxes to maintain the same level of government revenue.
The Tourism Economics report indicates that New York State’s tourism economy expanded in 2018 with 6.2% growth in traveler spending, reaching a new high of $71.8 billion — 35 percent above the state’s pre-recession peak set in 2008.
Bacher’s news came just days after vacation rental company Airbnb announced that Penn Yan was one of the top destinations in the Finger Lakes Region, along with Rochester, Geneva, Canandaigua, and Geneseo.
The Yates County Chamber of Commerce is the county’s official Tourism Promotion Agency. Bacher routinely reports on trends and activities to the legislature, during her presentation she gave an overview of promotional programs, publications, advertising, digital marketing, regional partnerships, and updates to the agency’s website.
Other business at the Sept. 9 legislature meeting included:
• Corrections Officer: Legislators authorized, with District 1 legislator Elden Morrison casting the lone “no” vote, Sheriff Ron Spike to hire a new Correction Officer to fill a vacancy created by a retirement. Morrison said there are already three open positions that have not been filled. He also suggested waiting until after the impact of new state laws effective Jan. 1 are known. He said the projection is that the new regulations will result in a decline in the jail population. He said the county is losing money on housing federal inmates because of the overtime hours to staff one section of the jail.
• District Attorney positions: The legislators tabled action on two resolutions to create and fill positions in the District Attorney’s office — a confidential secretary to the DA and law enforcement liaison, and a full time Assistant DA. District Attorney Todd Casella requested the new staff to help the office manage the new requirements that will result from the Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2020. He projects the total number of court appearances per month will increase, timelines will be compressed, and new requirements will also mean more responsibilities for support staff. District 1 Legislator Timothy Cutler moved to table the resolutions until 2020 budget discussions in late October. “We will have some tough decisions to make,” he said. District 2 Legislator Terry Button cast the lone “no” vote to the table motion.
• Other positions: Without discussion, legislators unanimously approved resolutions to hire a caseworker in the Department of Social Services, and a working supervisor in the Highway Department, both vacant after recent retirements. They also authorized hiring a probation assistant after a recent resignation, and the creation and filling of a full time emergency services dispatcher position in anticipation of a February 2020 retirement.
• Criminal Justice Coordinating Council: The legislators unanimously approved the by-laws of the Yates County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). The council, which includes representatives from the legislature, sheriff’s office, county court, DA’s office, public defender’s office, probation fepartment, community services, jail ministry, Penn Yan Police Department, a local magistrate, county administrator, and two citizens at large. The CJCC will study the county’s criminal justice system, identify deficiencies and formulate policies, plans, and programs for change when opportunities present themselves.
• American Legion Centennial: The legislators passed a resolution recognizing the Johnson Costello Post’s 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated Sept. 14.