Adirondack airport funding discussed

MALONE — The Franklin County Legislature mulled the use of occupancy tax revenue in lieu of general fund monies in future budgets as a way to support tourism through Adirondack Regional Airport, during a meeting Thursday.

The county’s funding for the airport was part of a larger discussion on economic development during a meeting with Jeremy Evans, CEO of the county’s Industrial Development Agency and Phil Hans from the county’s Local Development Corporation.

According to Franklin County Manager Donna Kissane, the county allocated $10,000 to the airport in the county’s 2020 budget, with the funds originating in the county’s general fund.

A proposed allocation of $20,000 for the airport was reduced in response to an anticipated decrease in county revenue resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Kissane.

Kissane said in future budgets the plan is to have occupancy tax revenue support the county’s contribution to the regional airport.

“We definitely want to support the airport. They are a good partner for economic development and tourism. The airport is a great way to bring visitors here,” Kissane said.

Commonly known as a bed tax, local occupancy taxes charge an additional tax on hotel occupancy.

According to Kissane, the Local Development Corporation will look into the matter further, working with the Tourism Advisory Committee.

The Local Development Corporation acts as the county’s tourism agent, according to Kissane. Legislature Chairman Don Dabiew, D-Bombay, said Adirondack Regional Airport is a way to promote tourism throughout the county.

“The airport helps with tourism, it brings people to the area,” Dabiew said.

Adirondack Regional Airport is located in Saranac Lake, in the vicinity of Lake Clear.

According to Evans, the Tourism Advisory Committee came to a consensus that it would be appropriate for the airport and other partners to apply for funding through one of the state’s occupancy tax programs.

Tourism Advisory Committee Chair Brian McDonnell talked about the potential for cooperative advertising efforts with the regional airport.

“We all feel the airport is a real asset for the county, but coming out of the gate we wanted to make sure we are putting together programs for the funding that comes from the occupancy tax, to try and establish a gateway for the use of that money,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell said the county can be creative in how it financially supports advertising at the airport.

“The whole objective of the occupancy tax money is to be used for promoting tourism in Franklin County,” McDonnell said, “The airport is definitely a gateway, we get a lot of traffic through the airport and I think we can use the airport to promote the county, to bring in people who are going to be invested in Franklin County, it is just a matter of us trying to get creative in how we go about setting up a better marketing campaign for the airport.”

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