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March 25, 2010

Otsego County will not receive tourism grants


Otsego County was among many counties last week where officials learned they will not receive state tourism grants this year, county tourism director Deborah Taylor said.

The grants, which have been awarded annually for more than two decades, would have augmented the county’s advertising campaign: ``Believe it or not, this is Cooperstown.’’ Taylor said she had hoped to receive $50,000.

``I knew there was a possibility of this, so we have a Plan B of how to spend the money we do have,’’ she said Friday.

The county, which approved a $225,000 advertising campaign a few weeks ago, will have less to spend on advertising for the fall season, she said.

Private partners in the county’s program have contributed more money this year, which should help offset the loss, she noted.

``It will hurt, and we’ll do our best without it, but I don’t think it’s wise to cut funding for an industry that generates so much money in sales tax and bed tax,’’ Taylor said.

In Otsego County, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, The Farmers’ Museum and Glimmerglass Opera, among other attractions, tourism accounts for about one-third of the county’s $30 million annual sales tax receipts, Taylor said.

``It’s short-sighted on the state’s part because the state shares in the sales tax,’’ she said.

But the state is in crisis, according to the Empire State Development Corporation. In a letter dated March 4 from its chairman, Dennis Mullen, and Executive Director Peter Davidson, Taylor was informed that ``Due to the unprecedented and continuing fiscal crisis, we regret to inform you that the 2010 New York Tourism and Matching Grant Program has been cancelled.

``To be clear: the matching grant funding included in the 2009-2010 budget will not be awarded. Empire State Development will continue to pay prior year awards that remain outstanding.

``If no new resources can be identified in the fiscal year 2010-2011, we anticipate not being able to support the matching grants program in 2011.’’

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