Mayor, trustees fire back at chamber over funding

Wells told the board the chamber's website attracts more than a quarter million visits annually, contributing to what he called "reasonable success" for the business community despite a tough economy.

Dan Sullivan, a chamber member who owns and operates Adirondack Massage Therapy, echoed those sentiments, noting that chamber events help retain repeat visitors.

But at least one member of the business community thinks the chamber isn't doing an effective job.

Sewa Arora, owner of the Hotel Saranac, told trustees the chamber is little more than a social club, even going so far as to accuse chamber staff of driving business away from his hotel and toward Lake Placid.

Mayor Clyde Rabideau praised the chamber and its membership for its contribution to the community. But he also said the chamber's claim that cutting out "double-taxation" amounts to little savings is false, noting that village's across the state have few options when it comes to cutting their budgets.

"Villages are left with double-taxation scenarios, and it's hard to dissolve a village because we provide essential services," Rabideau said. "And frankly, if we can reduce our costs significantly enough and eliminate double-taxation, we'll be very close - but we'll never achieve - the status of a city, which is shielded from that double-taxation and is a local government in and of itself without that added layer."

Rabideau noted that cutting double-taxation across the board does amount to a significant savings for the village. He also hammered away on the issue of fairness, noting that simply put, village residents pay twice for the same groups and services that town taxpayers pay for just once.

Trustee John McEneany said he was frustrated that the chamber acted surprised when the cuts were announced in this year's budget.

"I'm a little miffed, to be honest with you, over press conferences organized seven months after the chamber was told something, pretending like they never knew it was going to happen," he said. "I guarantee you that there will be a motion coming forward from this board at the next meeting - that will never happen again. They will be on notice."

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