SARANAC LAKE - Saranac Lake village Mayor Clyde Rabideau says that if Franklin County begins collecting a bed tax, the revenue should be shared equally throughout the county.
Rabideau issued a statement Thursday after Tupper Lake village officials, including Mayor Paul Maroun and Trustee Rick Donah, said Saranac Lake shouldn't be the lone benefactor of tourism dollars distributed by Franklin County. Rabideau said he agrees with Maroun and Donah.
"Any money coming out of Franklin County for tourism and marketing should be fairly distributed to each township or region, or the money should be used (for) a truly county-wide tourism effort," he said in the statement.
At a recent Franklin County Board of Legislators meeting, Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce President Craig Stevens and Harrietstown Councilman Ron Keough asked the county to contribute $25,000 to market Saranac Lake through the Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, which is funded by Essex County's bed tax on hotel and other lodging stays; close to half of Saranac Lake is in Essex County. On Monday, Donah said Tupper Lake should be included in any such tourism marketing expenditure by Franklin County.
Rabideau noted that Franklin County is budgeting about $216,700 for tourism in 2013. County Manager Tom Leitz has also proposed using $25,000 to promote fishing tournaments in St. Lawrence County and $25,000 for writing grant applications aimed at agri-tourism.
Franklin County is also working to enact a bed tax to increase its tourism marketing funds. The proposed bed tax has not been finalized and would require approval from the state Legislature and a signature from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Franklin and Hamilton counties are the only two in the state that don't yet have bed taxes.
Rabideau said he will ask state lawmakers and Cuomo to support the proposed Franklin County bed tax.
"It's a fact that our county is divided into two tourism regions; north and south; the St. Lawrence Valley and the Adirondacks, which underscores the necessity for the county to equally allocate its tourism money to effect the proper marketing in each region," Rabideau wrote. "Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake are obviously in the Adirondack region and represent a significant chunk of the county's tax base. It would be unfair to give money to one town and not the other.
"We well recognize the challenge the county line (that runs through Saranac Lake) presents to regional marketing, but I am sure Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake can figure out a way to work together so everyone benefits and we should start out by including Tupper Lake in any 'regional' discussion," Rabideau added. "And, at the very least, the two communities could use their pro-rata share of funding in their own way."