By PETE KLEIN
Express News Staff
LAKE PLEASANT - Savings are expected as the result of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors' decision to separate the promotion of tourism from the Economic Development Department.
The decision came in the form of a Nov. 7 resolution that awarded most tourism efforts to the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST), Lake Placid, which had the second lowest of four bids received and reviewed by the Tourism Committee.
Bids received from Carolyn Braunius and Tom Williams were each in excess of $40,000. ROOST bid $25,000 and Adworkshop, Lake Placid, bid $24,000. The board agreed to go with the slightly higher bid from ROOST because of its years of experience in the tourism marketing of Essex County and the towns within it.
ROOST was also instrumental in helping Hamilton County with its marketing of the Adirondack Challenge this past summer.
The $25,000 administrative fee includes ROOST using I Love New York matching funds to promote the county with strategic ads. The state and county each contributed $81,000 to promote tourism here this year.
It could be more or less for 2014, depending on what share the state provides the county. This won't be known before early next year.
The resolution calls for a contract with ROOST stating: "An amount not to exceed $250,000 is hereby awarded to the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST), and ... includes $25,000 for administrative purposes for the period of Jan. 1, 2014 through December."
ROOST will be required to submit an annual marketing plan for approval and provide quarterly reports to the supervisors. It will not be given a blank check.
Funding is to be released quarterly after the supervisors receive and approve upcoming quarterly plans.
So where are the savings?
Bill Osborne, interim director for both tourism and economic development, provided a chart that shows eliminating the full-time economic and tourism director position formerly held by Ann Melious, who was paid $59,000 in salary and $33,250 in benefits, hiring ROOST for tourism, and hiring a part-time economic director at a yearly salary of $29,500 plus an estimated $2,950 in benefits will achieve total savings of about $35,180.
Even without these savings, the combined 2014 budget for tourism and economic development would be the exactly the same as the 2013 budget of $239,500.
Osborne recommended the $35,180 in savings be left in the tourism budget to help promote local events.
YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
Before passing the resolution the board heard from ROOST Executive Director Jim McKenna, who has many years of experience in tourism marketing and began work for the Lake Placid Chamber in 1982.
McKenna believes Essex and Hamilton counties have much in common, starting with the fact that they are the only two counties wholly within the Adirondack Park.
Although his experience started with marketing just Lake Placid, expanding those efforts to all the towns within Essex County has provided him and his staff of 15 the experience and expertise of promoting small towns such as Newcomb.
McKenna said, "By combining our efforts we will be able to reach more potential tourists. We will be able to show you the results of our efforts. I promise I will get out and visit all your towns to determine what you need."
Prior to the meeting Chairman of the Board William Farber provided insight on the changes.
He said, "This contract does not propose to radically change what we have currently done, it only proposes to change who administers it. We will be paying [$25,000] for contractual administration for something that historically cost the county more dollars and time to administer in-house.
"We will still have control over what town and county initiatives we support. We actually intend to put more emphasis on events."