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NYS budget proposal threatens ski areas

LAKE PLACID - Of the three budget proposals that are being discussed in Albany, one includes a cut in funding that would inevitably cripple several local economies.

The proposed budget in the Senate would cut all funding for the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), leaving local ski areas such as Whiteface and Gore Mountains to their own revenue. Many believe the proposal would ultimately force the ski areas to close along with the Olympic venues that hosted the 1932 and 1980 winter games.

Both the Assembly and Gov. David Paterson's budgets include $6.6 million in ORDA funding - still $1 millions less than last years budget. These proposals would only cover about one-fifth of ORDA's operating expenses, according to ORDA spokesman, John Lundin.

"As of right now, theses are all still proposed cuts and we just have to wait and see," he said.

Lundin is doing much more than wait, however.

He encourages local residents to join the officials and lobby state lawmakers to include allocations for ORDA in the final budget proposal.

"We have to continue to drive home the message about the importance of ORDA and what it means to the North Country and the state," he said.

A $6.6 million investment generates $350 million in economic impact, according to Lundin. "It's a small investment with a tremendous return for an entire region," he said.

The first day of the 2010-2011 fiscal year came and went on April 1 and lawmakers returned from an 11-day Passover and Easter holiday on Tuesday without a final budget. The Assembly and Senate are still negotiating in conference committees.

Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro said she is shocked by the proposals to cut funding and is working hard to ensure ORDA is not faced with a death-sentence.

Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed has joined Sayward in the fight to restore funding.

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