JOHNSTOWN - The Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry wants the Fulton County Board of Supervisors to commit to up to $120,000 for tourism and marketing and advertising in the event "I Love New York" matching funds don't come through.
State budget woes and their effect on county tourism were discussed at the Board of Supervisors' Economic Development Committee meeting Tuesday at the County Office Building.
Chamber President Wally Hart made the $120,000 funding request, but the committee asked him to come back next month with more information.
"I don't think we should discuss it now," Johnstown 3rd Ward Supervisor Jack Callery said. "I think we should wait for the state."
Hart started the discussion by saying chamber membership has been flat. But he also noted that in recent years, Fulton County's "I Love New York" tourism program has been cut. He said it went from $72,578 in 2008 to $56,647 for 2010, although this year's funds have not been received yet.
Hart wrote a letter dated July 19 to county Administrative Officer Jon Stead saying, "The Matching Funds Program is absolutely vital to sustain the marketing and promotional campaign we offer to attract tourists to Fulton County. Through a variety of advertisements placed nationally and regionally, as well as through the publication of maps, brochures, guides and various collateral materials, our tourism program brings people and dollars to Fulton County."
Hart posed the question of how the chamber can promote tourism when there is no money from the state.
"Part of the problem is the [county] budget planning process has started," Stead said.
Callery said the state doesn't care about that, to which Stead said the tourism issue is symptomatic of similar problems throughout Albany.
"This is New York's dysfunction spreading like a virus over local government," Stead said.
Hart told supervisors the chamber felt it should put "something on the table" to let the county know its tourism program is in jeopardy.
Northampton Supervisor Linda Kemper, committee chairwoman, asked how county lawmakers can even budget with so many issues unresolved in the capital.
"Everything is up in the air," Kemper said.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.