Oneidas' Indain deal hurts tourism bureau
Posted in the Utica Forum
#1 Mar 18, 2014
Funding for Oneida County Tourism has taken a hit with the agreement between the Oneida Indian Nation, and New York state and Oneida and Madison counties.
The bureau, which has had a budget of about $1 million, is losing more than $250,000 this year because of the deal.
That’s because the Nation had been paying county bed tax on the 770 hotel rooms it offers at its Turning Stone Resort Casino. There are about 2,800 rooms in the county.
Once U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn signed off on the agreement earlier this month and the Nation started making the stipulated payments to the state, the Nation stopped paying the bed tax.
“We are glad they came to an agreement,” said Oneida County Tourism President Kelly Blazosky.“But how do we keep tourism funding whole (and) moving in the positive direction it has been going?”
The county expects to get about $12.5 million a year from its share of the agreement, and it’s up to Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente to determine how that is spent.
He said he probably won’t pass any of it to Oneida County Tourism.
“I don’t have immediate plans to say I am going to make up this deficit,” he said.“They can’t expect the county to turn around and make them whole.”
Picente has not said where the money will go, only that he is waiting to see how much money the county nets as the actual funds roll in.
The owner of one local inn is frustrated by Picente’s decision.
“I think it (tourism bureau) helps those of us that are not mega-businesses like Turning Stone, with all the funds they have,” said Rita Sleys of the Rosemont Inn in Utica.“All of us in these entities have to just say,‘OK, fine, we will keep going and we will figure out how to do this without the extra help.’”
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