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Tax Overhaul Would Shift $250,000 To Support Glens Falls Civic Center

Lucas Willard

A plan to use tax dollars to support the Glens Falls Civic Center is a topic of debate in Warren County.

Members of the Warren County occupancy tax committee this week released a plan that would change the way funds collected from the county’s tax on hotel rooms are distributed, in an effort to support the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The arena, owned by the City of Glens Falls since 1979, is currently being purchased by the Coalition to Save Our Civic Center, a group of local businesspeople and volunteers, under a lease-purchase agreement.

The proposed overhaul of the occupancy tax distribution would give $250,000 a year for 3 years to the Civic Center for event promotion. This would be the only tax money that will be used to support the Coalition, and would help close a Coalition budget gap.

Occupancy Tax Committee chairman William Kenny, a supervisor from Glens Falls, is an advocate for the change to support the arena.

“I think the Civic Center is vital to the economy of the City of Glens Falls. The economic impact is measured in millions of dollars and without it we would be in trouble,” said Kenny.

The change would take tax money historically used by communities to promote events and divert that to the Coalition. Kenny said as part of the plan, the event awards would be reduced from $350,000 to $250,000 in the first year. In the following year, that amount will drop again to $175,000.

Kenny said he is a supporter of the Coalition.

“Because they’re local, and they’re dedicated to reviving the Civic Center.”

But not everyone supports the proposed change.

Queensbury town supervisor John Strough said the change would remove the Civic Center Coalition from the necessary process others use to secure occupancy tax dollars to support events to benefit the local economy elsewhere in the county. .

“I want to the Civic Center survive and I don’t mind the allocation of the potential of $250,000, but I just think that you just don’t give it to them and say, ‘Okay, spend it however you want’ because that money can’t be used for operations and so-forth.”

As well as hosting American League hockey games,the Civic Center has been host to large annual events including the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s boys basketball tournament and boys and girls State Volleyball Tournament. The Civic Center also hosts large concerts and other events

Strough also has some concerns with the current vision of the Coalition.

“The business plan needs work, it needs fine-tuning, it needs focus.”

The public has until Friday, November 21st to weigh-in on the proposed change. A hearing will be held at 9 am, before the scheduled Board of Supervisors meeting at 10 am. 

For more information visit: http://www.warrencountyny.gov/treasurer/bedtax.php

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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