The operators of Cool Insuring Arena are seeking $200,000 a year in municipal funding, including $100,000 in Warren County bed tax money, to pay for improvements to the arena over the next five years.
Arena management is hoping that Warren County will provide its share through proceeds from the county’s 4 percent bed tax, with the city of Glens Falls and town of Queensbury asked to pay $50,000 apiece. Arena management would come up with $50,000 per year as well.
County supervisors discussed the request Tuesday, but took no action, pending more discussion and a review of occupancy tax requests and proceeds.
Arena management would use the money to address a growing list of infrastructure needs, with more than $800,000 in work needed in the next two years alone, according to a project list released by arena Manager Jeff Mead.
A contingent from the arena’s board of directors, the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition, attended Tuesday’s meeting of the Warren County Board of Supervisors Occupancy Tax Coordination Committee to brief supervisors on the Glens Falls arena’s short-term and long-term needs and explain how they want to pay to address them.
Board member Elisabeth Mahoney said the volunteer organization that now runs the downtown Glens Falls arena concentrated on meeting financial obligations in its first five years of operating the building. Now, with the lease payments to the city of Glens Falls finished and operating finances stabilized, the coalition wants to address infrastructure.
“The arena needs our attention. It has needed our attention all along, but we had to prioritize,” Mahoney said.
The most pressing projects are heating, cooling, security and locker room projects that would cost an estimated $435,325; with additional work needed for the building’s cooling and HVAC systems, exterior doors and suites and private areas; and the purchase of a $103,000 ice resurfacing machine.
A $2 million renovation to Heritage Hall is on the “wish list” of projects five years down the road, Mead said.
The municipal funding won’t cover all of the work, but it will allow a start on priority projects, Mahoney said.
With a number of concerts, shows and a hockey camp on the schedule, the arena is headed for its busiest summer since the coalition took over, Mead said.
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The arena has already gotten $250,000 a year in bed tax money to assist with operations each year since 2014.
Mahoney said Glens Falls leaders have indicated a willingness to support the fund. Glens Falls Mayor Dan Hall said city leaders are “in negotiations” with the coalition about how to help, but have not committed to any figures.
“We’re working with them and will come to some sort of agreement,” Hall said.
The town of Queensbury has yet to get a formal request, town Supervisor John Strough said, but he has heard from arena board member Ed Moore about a possible request for funding
“I have talked to Ed Moore about this situation and agreed that ‘helping’ to fund an arena capital fund from occupancy tax was a worthy cause,” Strough said. “However, because the city (of Glens Falls) and town receive limited occupancy tax, I believe that this should be more of a county effort; come from the county’s occupancy tax reserves, amount to be determined.”
The town of Queensbury gets about $200,000 a year in occupancy tax funding, he said.
The county Board of Supervisors Occupancy Tax Coordination Committee took no action on the request Tuesday, although a number of committee members voiced support for providing more assistance, if possible. But the committee is also dealing with a request from the village of Lake George for occupancy tax support for the village’s wastewater treatment plant project.
“It’s not a question of wanting to do it, it’s a question of figuring out how to do it,” Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson, chairman of the committee, said.
The county expects a law to take effect as soon as later this year that will charge the 4 percent tax on short-term home rentals, such as those through Airbnb, which will bring in more revenue. And the county is also taking legal action against businesses that owe $1.6 million in unpaid occupancy taxes dating back as far as a decade, although county leaders do not expect to collect that full amount.
The 4,800-seat arena is home to the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder and also hosts high school sporting events, trade shows and other events.