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North Creek business group hopes to grow shuttle

— North Creek Business Alliance officials were lobbying hard this past week to keep their free shuttle service alive for another year in 2013, going on the offensive in order to persuade town officials to grant them more funding through the Warren County occupancy tax program.

“As a ski town, we realized going on four years ago now, that we need the shuttle,” said barVino co-owner and Business Alliance co-chairman Mike Bowers. “We need the ability to transport people from Gore Mountain, which is only three or four minutes away, to the downtown, the lodging facilities, the restaurants, the shops. And it increases tourism and makes us a legitimate ski town.”

The 4 percent occupancy tax (a.k.a bed tax) is charged to tourists who rent rooms during their stay in the county. Funding for special projects, events, conventions, etc. is granted on the county and town levels, and the money is only to be used for tourism-related activities that “enhance the general economy of the County of Warren,” according to the county law established in 2003.

When North Creek Business Alliance officials filed their 2013 occupancy tax funding application with the town of Johnsburg, they called their shuttle service a “regional transportation project,” rather than a downtown North Creek project.

They were hoping to make their case for the application at the Dec. 4 Johnsburg Town Board meeting because they had heard the new committee reviewing the applications was not going to recommend the shuttle get any funding in 2013. And that’s a mistake, according to Bowers.

“This is probably one of the single most important things that we’re doing as a town,” Bowers said. “If you go to Lake Placid, there’s a continual shuttle going around town all day long. And people have come to expect this. Without this, we’re not going to continue our effort to make North Creek a destination. And without our being a destination, and providing these amenities, we’re going to wither on the vine.”

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