State funding cuts are beginning to hit home in local tourism programs

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

Over recent weeks, the Yates County Chamber of Commerce has received notification of funding cuts for its 2009 program year. In all these cuts will total $41,000 in direct aid from the state and an additional $16,000 in local matching funds for a total of $57,000.

The I Love New York program, which provides local assistance funding on a dollar to dollar match is proposed to be cut in Gov. Paterson’s budget.

This program was historically funded at $5.3 million, but for Fiscal Year 2009-10, the Paterson budget cut the program to $4.1 million. This dramatic reduction limits a county’s ability to apply for matching funds.

“Additionally, the governor, along with the Assembly Speaker and the Majority Leader in the Senate met secretly during the past two weeks and reduced the matching funds allocation in the FY 2008-09 budget to the $4.1M level,” says Chamber of Commerce President Michael Linehan.

Republican sponsored members items have been eliminated from the FY 2008-09 budget, according to Sen. George Winner.

“In a letter received from his office in early February, we learned that the $25,000 grant for the accommodation feasibility study has been withdrawn by the Paterson administration, reports Linehan.

Linehan notes that “Tourism continues to be the shining star in the Upstate economy. It appears that the administration doesn’t understand that it’s imperative, even in difficult times, to fully fund tourism development and marketing programs.”

Tourism provides jobs for over 700 people locally and in the past decade has been responsible for nearly $25 million in capital investment in Yates County.

Linehan continued, “With the investment that local business leaders have made in infrastructure, one would believe that government would invest more in the industry, to ensure future success and enhanced revenues both from the property tax stream and from sales tax.”

Linehan and the Chamber are working with local leaders and with statewide organizations like the New York State Travel & Vacation Association to ensure that funding levels are maintained.

The Yates County Tourism program is a division of the Yates County Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is under contract with Yates County to provide tourism development services. The Chamber is a membership organization that includes over 450 businesses in the Central Finger Lakes region of New York State.

For details on the local tourism program or the activities of the Chamber of Commerce, call Linehan at 315-536-3111