TUPPER LAKE - Village Trustee Rick Donah is the newest member of Franklin County's Tourism Advisory Committee.
Donah will replace Michelle Clement on the board when her one-year term expires May 15. Clement also has a contract with the town and the village as the events coordinator for the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce. She decided not to renew that contract earlier this year.
Donah said members of the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce, village board and town board all drafted him for the role after a series of economic development meetings. The Franklin County Board of Legislators accepted Donah's appointment at its meeting last Thursday.
"This is something I've been working toward, in terms of trying to increase the economic opportunities for the community," Donah said. "I think it's important that the southern end of the county has strong representation, and it's especially important for the small business community here to have that representation."
Donah said he has been involved in marketing since 1991. He currently handles the operations, marketing and promotion of P-2's Irish Pub in the town, and is also involved with promoting Big Tupper Ski Center.
Besides his role as a village trustee, Donah is the village's economic growth facilitator. He said his new role with TAC should help him move economic growth forward more quickly.
"I'm open and willing to contribute my time and energy," Donah said. "I'd like to integrate what we can to get more people to spend more tourism dollars in the county in general. It's all part of our strategic plan here to improve the economics of the central Adirondacks."
Donah said he supports the occupancy tax, which county legislators have tried to enact for more than a year. He thinks the county should continue to push for it.
"I was there in the meeting when they presented it to the motel owners in Tupper Lake, and there weren't very many happy people," Donah said. "We have to explain to them what the value of this is to their organization. They didn't feel like there was much benefit to them, but I do think it's a viable way to fund tourism in the area. Obviously we don't have the number of rooms that Lake Placid does, but we have to start somewhere."
County legislators formed TAC last year in anticipation of the county occupancy tax receiving approval from the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. They're still waiting on that.
Last year, after a committee of lodging owners spent about a year working on the law that would create the tax, legislators held two rounds of three hearings - each time holding one in Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Malone. Support was mixed or leaning in favor of the tax in Malone and Saranac Lake, but both times in Tupper Lake, most of the town's motel owners showed up to express their angry opposition.
If passed, the tax would impose a 5 percent fee on overnight guests in Franklin County. TAC's role is to advise legislators on how that tax money should be spent to promote tourism throughout the county.
Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.