DEC's escalating fees to Americade are unjustified

A SUNY study several years ago concluded Americade brought $43 million or so into the local economy. Even if you slash the $43 million estimated Americade local impact by three-quarters, the state is earning $400,000 in sales tax annually from expenditures by Americade attendees. Warren County reaps nearly as much in their local sales tax share, plus about $200,000 annually in bed tax money.

While a DEC officials defend the increased charge based on what they might receive if they rented each individual parking space, such a claim isn't reasonable since the lot would be vacant anyway, and they should be boosting economic activity, not squashing it.

It makes absolutely no sense for our state government to chase such a revenue generator out of state over a $15,000 increase in rental fees from an empty parking lot.

When hearing about the state's escalating demands from Americade, Warren County leaders were outraged. They proclaimed that losing Americade would constitute an economic calamity for taxpayers.

They're right.

The legendary rally not only provides the tax revenue and the $40 million-plus annual windfall to local businesses - that need it desperately - but it boosts employment for hundreds of local residents.

In addition, the impact of Americade is surely even greater than the figures indicate.

Each year, up to 50,000 motorcyclists from all over the continent visit the Lake George region for Americade, and many of them become enamored with the area's offerings enough to make return visits, which also generate revenue.

Lake George motel owner Salim Amersi recognizes how important Americade is to the local economy.

He generously offered to pay Americade the $15,000 increase in DEC fees to assure that Dutcher would keep his rally in Lake George.

Such an offer is laudable, but it shouldn't be necessary. The state should not be levying unjustified charges on businesses - particularly ones that provide such huge benefits to the area economy.

Hopefully, local officials and businesses will be successful in lining up an alternate, free site for TourExpo for 2011 and beyond and we can retain Americade, which most all of us embrace.

Meanwhile, the state should abandon their unreasonable demand for additional cash. They should be reducing wasteful spending to make up their $10 billion deficit, rather than looking towards business enterprises to pony up.

Thom Randall is editor of the Adirondack Journal. He can be reached at thom@denpubs.com.

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