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December 09, 2016
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Apollo plaza project moves forward; bed tax also considered

Local match for tourism

In the same meeting, the Sullivan County Visitors Association (SCVA) presented a detailed account of their budget and spending, which had been requested by several legislators. One topic that received a good deal of discussion was the matching funds program for local advertising for tourism businesses.

For the past two years, the program was funded by the 15% of the bed tax that the county can withhold from SCVA if it desires to do so. Legislator Jonathan Rouis said before the program began some people in the county questioned why all of the advertising was done outside of the county in places like New York City and elsewhere. The local match program was a way for local businesses to promote themselves locally, with a 50% match by the SCVA, in local media outlets including The River Reporter.

Legislator Kitty Vetter said she appreciated the local match program because it helped organizations, such as the Livingston Manor Chamber of Commerce and the Shandalee Music Festival, get the word out about their events at a reduced advertising rate.

Lawmaker Cindy Geiger said she had questions about the way the money is distributed.

Legislator Gene Benson had similar concerns. He said the benefit should not just go to the 300 or so businesses that are members of SCVA. He said, “It should be for everybody. Once the tax is collected it becomes taxpayer money; spread the wealth.”

Paul Carlucci, vice president of Villa Roma Hotel and Resort, which pays more bed tax than any other business in the county, said, “Of the 300 members of the SCVA, I would say maybe 10% collect bed tax, so it already is spread pretty well.”

It’s not yet clear if the legislature will grant the SCVA the funds for the local match program for the coming season.