QUEENSBURY -- The North Creek Business Alliance was granted an increase in bed tax funding that should allow it to expand shuttle service around North Creek for tourists.
The alliance did not receive the $38,000 it requested, but Warren County supervisors gave the group $26,000 in occupancy tax money, a $10,000 increase over the funding the program got last year.
Combined with $10,000 in bed tax money given to the alliance by the town of Johnsburg recently, Johnsburg Supervisor Ronald Vanselow said the alliance should have enough money to purchase a shuttle bus to improve transportation for tourists in and around Gore Mountain Ski Center and the hamlet of North Creek.
The alliance was one of 43 businesses and events that successfully lobbied for a portion of $391,500 in occupancy tax revenue the county will give out next year to events that bring tourists to the county. Glens Falls 5th Ward Supervisor William Kenny, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors Occupancy Tax Coordination Committee, said committee members and Tourism Department staff spend hours going over applications before the annual December meeting.
Overall, the county received requests for $666,000 in funding from 48 events this year, Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino said.
Nearly two dozen business owners and event promoters touted their plans and lobbied supervisors on the Occupancy Tax Coordination Committee for a piece of the bed tax pie. There was a mix of new events, like the Lake George Music Festival, and tourism stalwarts like Americade and the Adirondack Customs car show.
Americade operations manager Christian Dutcher said nationwide economic problems have led to a drop in corporate funding, making occupancy tax awards more important to the annual motorcycle rally. The event is considered the biggest tourism draw of the year for Warren County businesses.
“We’re having to work much, much, much harder,” Dutcher said.
Jason Sherry, promoter of the Lake George Elvis Festival, said that event plans to expand to an extra day next year and double its attendance, while The Hyde Museum touted its upcoming Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit. Centurion Cycling also hopes to double its participation next summer.
The North Creek Business Alliance’s proposal to expand the shuttle program and buy a shuttle bus generated the most discussion among supervisors. Some wanted to give the group the full $38,000, while others suggested half.
Horicon Supervisor Ralph Bentley said expanding the shuttle will create jobs in the northern part of the county, while Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said the shuttle has proved important in Lake George.
“It’s essential that you can move people around,” Dickinson said.
Occupancy tax funding comes from a 4 percent tax imposed on hotel, motel and lodge rooms. It is used to support the county Tourism Department, and the county and towns are given portions for the promotion of events that attract overnight stays by tourists.
Treasurer Michael Swan said occupancy tax receipts are up 8.1 percent so far this year, an increase that should allow the county to support its budgeted expenses and put about $90,000 in the occupancy tax fund balance. Nearly $3.1 million had been reported as of Dec. 6.