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Legislators hear Yates tourism report

PENN YAN—Yates County Legislature held the first of four scheduled evening meetings May 10 with Yates County Chamber of Commerce President Michael Linehan presenting a report on tourism.
Linehan outlined program goals which included attracting overnight visitors because they spend more money in the county, provide cooperative programs, demonstrate measurable results to the people who provide the funding and to grow the season. Linehan explained there has been relative success between June 20 and mid-October or November, but April, May and June need to be grown.
After outlining methods used to attract the public to Yates County, he spoke about the upcoming summer, asking, “What will happen this summer? The gas price situation, people visiting friends and relatives, value, social media and weather all impact the season. People make plans at the last minute and want the experience they expect. If the weather is lousy they won’t travel.”
Linehan spoke about the top five summer trends with the second being authenticity, adding, “People traveling are looking for a ‘real’ experience.” He said representatives of a Manhattan public relations firm that has been hired by a group of area county tourism groups visited the county recently. They commented on the authentic experiences that are available in Yates County ranging from Mennonite farms to wineries, the produce auction and other attractions.
Linehan explained the meaning of Tourism Promotion Agencies or TPAs, calling the term a designation given to a group that will represent the county and present a tourism program. During the legislature meeting that followed, Yates County Chamber of Commerce was named the county TPA.
Linehan said the I Love New York matching funds program is gone and funding for promotion will be impacted, making it necessary to find more local money for tourism promotion. Formerly the state grant was the source of 50 percent of money available here for tourism promotion. Linehan spoke about the needs in the county, one being for mid-level priced accommodations. Customer service training is also a need. He said, “We still have a lot of people who don’t get it.”
During a question and answer period that followed, Linehan responded to a question about the loss of state funds, commenting, “I don’t think losing New York funds is the worst thing. It forced us to take a hard look at our budget. It will make us more creative.”
In other business: The local law establishing an occupancy tax in Yates County was renewed, effective Jan. 1, 2011 and will be in effect for three years from that date. A public hearing on Entitled Renewal of Local Law 04-07 Establish Occupancy Tax, was scheduled at 6:30 p.m. June 14 in the Yates county Legislative Chambers.
• Money from the occupancy tax reserve fund was appropriated for the Yates County Federation of Conservation Clubs in the amount of $1,000 for a fishing derby. The event is expected to bring tourists and derby participants to the county.
• Appropriated environmental project funds in the amount of $10,000. The funds are an increase to LaBella Associates, P.C. contract due to additional state requirements for Site Management Plan and preparation of the American Land Title Association survey associated with the Environmental Easement at the former Penn Yan Marine Manufacturing facility in Penn Yan.
• Passed a resolution supporting Senate and Assembly bills authorizing county clerks to retain a portion of fees collected for motor vehicle related services through a New York State Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) website or processing center. The resolution stated there are numerous time-consuming transactions the local DMV office is required to perform where the state does not allow the county any fee. In addition, local offices are often competing with the state DMV for business transactions in order to sustain operations.
• Passed a resolution opposing an Assembly bill amending the public officers law in relation to requiring certain records which are the subject of a discussion conducted at an open meeting be made available to the public. The resolution in opposition noted the proposed legislation would be a significant budget on staff and resources at the local government level and could cost counties more money to make additional copies and to expand its technology to accommodate the requirement. Other reasons indicated the legislation would require all agency board to make their records available to the public and that the county also consists of municipalities that do not have internet capability, which would cause them to make paper copies available, causing additional expenses for the municipality.
• Legislators authorized the legislature chairman to sign the 2010 indemnification agreement between the county and various municipalities in the county that may receive loaned equipment and vehicles from the county without operators. The agreement will be in effect for two years.
• The Capital Improvement Plan, initiated in 1999, was approved for the fiscal years 2011 to 2015.
• Legislature chairman Taylor Fitch appointed Sam Selwood to a three year term on Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District.
• May was proclaimed as Mental Health Month.
The next meeting of the Yates County Legislature will be at 6:30 p.m. June 14 in legislative chambers in the Yates County office building on Liberty Street in Penn Yan.

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